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It started, as it always did, with Gerard.

Mikey had been visiting him at his school in the city for the day, partially because he hadn't seen Gerard in a couple weeks, partially because he didn't want to be at his own school. Gerard, being Gerard, had spent the entire day in the sewing room, going back and forth between his machine and his mannequin. Mikey had stolen a chair from an empty machine and read comics. It had been a pretty rad day on its own, really. He didn't need to do anything special with Gerard as long as they got to be together.

It was about mid-afternoon when Gerard squinted at Mikey. It was likely he'd been staring at Mikey for a while and Mikey hadn't noticed, but he'd been at the end of his comic and not aware of any world that wasn't drawn. When Mikey did notice, he started staring back.

"You mind trying this on?" Gerard asked like they'd been talking for a while already. He extended the garment in his arm.

"This?" Mikey picked it up, holding it out in front of him. "Uh, Gee?"

"Yeah?"

"It's a dress."

Gerard looked at it sharply, almost like the thought hadn't occurred to him, looked at the mannequin, and looked back at Mikey to examine him closely. Finally, he said, "It should fit. There's a screen in the back if you want privacy." Like a bad fit and modesty were reasons Mikey might not want to wear it.

Mikey sighed, but he knew he would wear it, so he went back to the screen and changed without further discussion. But he didn't go back out right away. He looked at the way the fabric draped on his legs, kicked to see it ripple, and felt an odd...awareness under his skin. He wasn't entirely sure what he was feeling. But he was feeling it intensely.

"Do you need help zipping it?" Gerard called.

"No, I'm fine." Mikey ran his fingers over the raised pattern in the dress to buy himself a couple minutes before he stepped out where Gerard could see.

Gerard, being Gerard, came over right away and started pinning sections without saying a word. He hadn't seemed to notice that Mikey's hands were shaking, which was good. It gave Mikey a few more minutes to breathe.

When Gerard stepped back to investigate his work, he nodded to himself and said, "Are you busy a couple weeks from Saturday? I'm missing a model for the fashion show."

"For this?" Mikey asked, pinching the dress.

"Nah, suits. I have menswear and no models." Gerard finally looked Mikey in the eye and smiled. "But you do look really good in this."

The feeling under Mikey's skin, so weird a minute ago, warmed under Gerard's praise. He knew, somehow, it was only the beginning.

-

Five years later

"This feels familiar," Mikey said.

He watched Gerard look up from his mannequin. "What does?"

"Us, in the city together. You, working on an outfit that I will probably end up wearing." Mikey held up his iPad. "Me, reading comics."

Gerard laughed. "The details are a little different. Like, I have more room to work."

He wasn't lying. Gerard's penthouse was far more spacious than his borrowed table at his old school, and Mikey was stretched out on a sofa instead of on a borrowed chair or curled up on the floor. Everything around them was more expensive, including - no, especially - Mikey's clothes, some of which had been designed by Gerard.

"Why did you ask me over, anyway?" Mikey asked, setting his iPad on the table beside him. "So you could work while we hang out?"

"Basically. But I also have a favor to ask. I have a..." Gerard looked at the ceiling thoughtfully. "I think 'friend' is too informal, and 'protégé' isn't right, either. But he's kind of both of those. He has a show in a week, and he lost a lot of his models."

"Menswear or women's?"

"Women, although his men's show is going to have a lot of the same pieces. He's going for androgyny."

Well, that was definitely Mikey's wheelhouse. "Why didn't he call me himself?"

"Because he's new and broke and your rates are ridiculous."

"My rates are fair and balance demand."

Gerard beamed at Mikey, his little way of saying "I'm so proud of you" without the words coming out. "You'll fucking love the clothes, too. It's why I made him okay it if I asked you."

"Wait," Mikey said, sitting up, "he didn't even want me?"

"Oh, he did. Does. He's from Jersey and proud as shit and didn't want to abuse me for favors."

"Which means you forced one on him anyway."

"It's not a favor for him. It's a favor for me and a gift for him."

Mikey sighed and stood up, crossing over until he could hug Gerard. "You could ask me anything, you know that."

Since Gerard's arms were pinned in Mikey's hug, he reached up as much as he could and patted Mikey's arm. "He wants you to go over when you have time in the next couple days. And no, don't give me that look, this isn't a go-see. I think he's afraid you'll hate everything."

"If you like it, so will I."

"That's what I told him, but..." Gerard shrugged. "I'll have him text you the address, okay?"

Mikey kissed the side of Gerard's head and went back to the couch. Mikey had only so many nights to slouch around, and he was going to use this one to the best of his ability.

-

It turned out Mikey knew the address; it was one of Gerard's studios back in Belleville, where it was "close enough to be near the city, but far enough that it wouldn't be part of too much gentrifying bullshit", in Gerard's words. Mikey wasn't sure if that was possible, but whatever. If this guy, simply identified as "Frnk" after his address text, was using Gerard's space, Gerard definitely loved him.

When Mikey went inside what turned out to be a bustling space for the first time and saw the pieces displayed around the room, he understood why.

The clothes didn't have a commercial core to them, not like Gerard's did. These were completely punk, and not just by look, although the visual aesthetic was punk with a high-fashion twist. What Mikey noticed when he saw the tunics and leggings was DIY-style stitching and composition. He could only make it out because he was in the industry and Gerard was his brother. To the average person, they'd look messy. To Mikey, they looked like art.

"Can I help you?"

Mikey turned from the outfit he was staring at. A shorter man was behind him. He was dressed in baggy jeans with holes and a slouchy shirt with "fuck rules bring pizza" written in marker across it. He looked lost in the clothes and almost like a kid, except for the twinkle in his eye that said he would fight anyone who looked at him sideways. Even though no one in the room was dressed formally, Mikey could have picked him out in a second.

"You," Mikey said, holding out his hand, "must be the designer."

"And you're Emme."

Mikey nodded as the man shook Mikey's hand. "Didn't get your name, though."

"Frank. Iero." He gestured to a banner across the room with "frnk." written out in the same messy letters as were on his shirt. "That's how it's written, but it just sounds like Frank. Because that's my actual name."

Was Frank nervous? Gerard had suggested as much, but it was something else to actually see it. Mikey smiled to himself in a way that probably wasn't super noticeable. "I get it. Emme is my stage name."

"Oh yeah? I thought Gee called you Mikey." He paused, and Mikey, suspecting Frank wanted confirmation, nodded. "What should I call you?"

"Whatever you want." If Frank was on "Gee" terms with Gerard, Mikey was fine with Mikey. "But I'm Emme professionally."

"Got it. You want something to drink, or you want to get to work?"

Work would be the less awkward thing, since it was easy common ground. But Mikey was curious about Frank and Gerard. "Water would be great."

"Coming right up. Have a seat."

Mikey sat in an empty, decorative chair as Frank went toward what looked like the kitchen area of the space, which had a counter with a microwave on top and a see-through mini fridge next to it. Frank didn't get a helper or an assistant to get Mikey's water, which was a nice touch. Not necessary - Mikey didn't mind if people delegated, as long as they weren't assholes about it - but nice.

When Frank came back with two glasses, he handed Mikey a glass and sat in the chair next to him. "So what do you think? Is Gerard wasting your time?"

"Gerard never wastes my time," Mikey said honestly.

"He seems to worship the ground you walk on. That must be something."

Mikey smiled at Frank. "Only child?"

"Is it that obvious?"

Mikey shook his head. "You see Gerard like an older brother?"

"Fuck, I wish. He's my fucking idol. Brilliant as shit. If I can be half as good as he is, my life won't be a waste."

And like that, Mikey liked Frank. He'd respected him before, both because Gerard liked him and because his work was obviously good, but anyone who adored Gerard had good taste. "I think comparing you two would be like...I don't know, comparing Star Trek and Star Wars. But what I've seen so far is good."

Frank grinned. "Glad you think so. Now, I'm not going to ask you if you'll do the show for me."

There was an awkward pause before Mikey figured out that Frank wasn't following that up. "You're not?"

"You're way too fucking big to be wasting time with me. I can't afford you."

"You think I would have come down here if I was charging my usual rates?" Mikey leaned on his armrest. "Let's take money out of it. Would you want me in the show? Honestly."

Frank sighed, but he nodded. "You're perfect."

"Then I'll do it. And I'm not taking no for an answer."

Frank paused for a moment, looking deer-in-the-headlights, until the stunned quality wore away to a shit-eating grin. "You are so fucking much like Gerard."

Mikey had never heard a better compliment in his life.

-

He did try on the clothes, and it was a lot of fun. Frank snapped all the test pictures himself, and when Mikey saw the Polaroids afterward, he said, "You should put this in an art gallery."

"I had a good subject."

Mikey met Frank's eye, and for a moment, Mikey felt...something. Trusting his intuition had worked out pretty well for him, so he called up Gerard on the road back to the city.

"Was this a setup?" Mikey asked.

"Sorry, what?"

"Frank. What were you thinking there? Why should I help him?"

"Dunno. Guess I thought you were his muse, and he hadn't even met you."

Mikey blinked. Not at the phone, which was in a hands-free holster on the dashboard, but just in general. "Did he tell you that?"

"Not in so many words, but I'm not completely oblivious." A pause. "What did you mean by setup, anyway? You know I wouldn't trick you into anything."

Maybe Gerard wasn't always naive, but thankfully, he had no idea Mikey was asking Gerard if he was seeing if they had romantic chemistry. It answered Mikey's question, too.

"Clear your schedule if you haven't," Mikey said. "I'm walking in his show."

"Schedule's clear. Love you."

Mikey smiled to himself. "Love you, too."

-

The next time Mikey met up with Frank, was, sadly, run-through the day before the show. Mikey was lucky to make an early thing at all since he was used to going over it the same day at the show, but apparently Frank was getting experimental with his setup, so Mikey pushed meetings around. When he showed up and Frank asked how long Mikey had, Mikey could honestly answer, "I'm all yours for the next couple days."

They worked right away, and since Frank had more to do than Mikey, they couldn't talk, but it turned out a familiar face was working the lighting and music.

"Ray!" Mikey said happily, bouncing forward in the wedges he was wearing with his arms outstretched. Ray wrapped him in a big hug. "Gerard didn't tell me he roped you in, too."

Ray snorted. "I volunteered. Got some new gadgets I wanted to try. Wanna see?"

Mikey nodded and let Ray lead him to the soundboard. Ray was super into techy stuff, and because he was married to Gerard and Gerard had money to throw around, Ray bought a lot of expensive items that Mikey couldn't identify for the life of him. Ray usually did a pretty good job of explaining - Ray's new favorite, for instance, was actually an adapted guitar pedal - but there was still a ton that went over his head.

"Gonna be a hell of a show," Mikey said, grinning. "Just try to keep your lights pointed away from my eyes this time?"

Ray flushed. It had been early in Mikey's career when Ray had pointed four lights on Mikey's face at once, and they were bright enough that he'd missed the end of the runway and barely avoided falling on the photographers at the end. That was how Gerard and Ray had met, actually; Gerard had been furious and Ray had rushed over to apologize, and there had been a spark between them that only Mikey had noticed. That had been when both Gerard and Mikey were still drinking, so Mikey took them both out for beers afterward, and that had been that.

"You don't still feel bad about that," Mikey asked, voice flat.

"No, no," Ray said, waving his hands for a moment. When he stopped, he said, "But—"

"Remember what Gerard said. Don't..."

"...apologize for meeting the love of my life," Ray recited dutifully. He smiled, ducking his head a little. "I'm not sorry about that. I'm sorry I nearly got you hurt."

Well, it was Mikey's fault for bringing it up. He patted Ray on the back, said, "I'd better get back," and darted away.

-

Doing the show itself was better than Mikey expected. It was small enough that there weren't many VIPs in the front row, but Mikey had enough to do that he wouldn't have noticed if the most famous people in the world lined the catwalk. Work always kept the worst thoughts at bay, luckily.

(There were drugs backstage. There were always drugs backstage. Just because he didn't see them didn't mean they weren't there. At least he couldn't smell alcohol anywhere, just hair spray and makeup and sweat.)

It wasn't until he was at the end, and he walked the runway one more time arm-in-arm with Frank (a very nice model named Jamia had Frank's other side), that he realized he hadn't thought about his clothes once. He was usually keenly aware of his outfits, and it wasn't a bad thing, but there was no...sense he was hiding out and someone would call him out for getting it wrong. Granted, Mikey had relaxed a lot once he became a regular fixture in women's high fashion for more than just Gerard - there was something about doing both kinds of shows and shoots that felt more balanced - but despite the very large numbers on his checks, he still expected someone to pull him off the runway in the middle of a show and send him to jail or something.

Mikey clapped eagerly when Frank stepped ahead of the models and took a bow.

-

The afterparty was back in Frank's studio in Belleville. There were definitely some famous faces at this one, and Mikey was as used to seeing them as he'd ever be, but everyone congregating in his hometown was bizarre. Not in a bad way; it felt like Gerard had pierced the bubble that had kept the two of them apart from everything as kids and brought the world back in. But it probably wouldn't ever be normal.

Mikey was used to getting a water at these parties - it looked like vodka to anyone who wasn't nearby, and he could say he had a shoot in the morning for anyone rude enough to comment - and hanging out in a corner. It fit his image if he smoldered at anyone who looked, really. But even though he took his usual chair out of the main party flow, Gerard was also at this party and would never abandon Mikey to his own devices, and there were other chairs nearby, and Frank of all people took one. Between the three of them and Ray, who hovered awkwardly until Gerard gave him a break and let him fetch snacks and drinks for everyone, Mikey's spot was less a getaway and more a destination.

After the third person who told Mikey "how much I admire you, Emme, you're so brave and beautiful", Mikey leaned over to Gerard and whispered, "This is all your fault."

Gerard just beamed like Mikey was thanking him and went back to asking Jamia about something, but of course he wouldn't see anything wrong. Mikey had been less reticent in the past, before the rehab stints, and Gerard was always trying to get Mikey out of his shell again, especially if that meant Mikey got compliments.

Luckily for Mikey, when another admirer came up, Frank came to the rescue. "Emme, I actually need to ask you something in the back. Do you mind?"

Mikey just shook his head and followed where Frank beckoned. Which was a dark supply room that went quiet when Frank shut the door behind them. Mikey put his head in his hands and breathed a couple times.

"Too much?" Frank asked. He was pushing open a window and pulling a box of cigarettes out of his pocket. "You don't mind, do you?"

Mikey shook his head. He desperately wanted to take a cigarette from Frank, but he just leaned against the wall and breathed instead. "This job's just a lot sometimes."

Frank nodded. He lit the cigarette through bars on the window and only brought it inside to take a drag. "You fucking said it. I never meant to take the lead on designing."

"No?"

"Nah. I liked being a peon at..." Frank coughs delicately. "A big fucking designer that you would recognize and I like to trash for fun these days, so I won't say who. Once I...um, was asked to leave there, I followed Gerard around because I wanted a job."

Mikey smiled. "So why aren't you working for him?"

"He asked me to make test pieces based on a collection I came up with before he would hire me. And then when he saw what I came up with, he insisted on funding..." Frank waved his hand, gesturing to the building around them. "So if I make it anywhere, it's your fucking brother's fault."

"My job's his fault, too."

Frank cackled. It was dorkier than Mikey would have suspected. "I'm so surprised."

"Yeah, me too. About you." Mikey crossed his arms as Frank took a drag from his cigarette. "So, did you actually have something to talk to me about, or did you need a nicotine fix?"

"Both. I don't smoke around the clothes, and I wanted privacy." Frank exhaled out the window. "Your fucking brother used obscene amounts of money to get ad space in some big magazines. I need a model. And since he's footing the bill, he's paying your full rates."

"Nice of him."

"He's such an asshole." Frank sighed, and he sounded very happy when he did. And maybe a little nervous. "He knows my body's shit. The stress is going to kill me before I can get famous."

"What a way to go."

"I guess there's worse ways. You in?"

Mikey found himself liking the idea of working with Frank again. He liked the idea of helping him, too. "Yeah. Get in touch with my agent. I'll keep my schedule free."

"You're a lifesaver, Mikey Way."

"Gerard called me a muse."

"Same difference." Frank took one more pull from his smoke before crushing it in an ashtray next to the window. "Thanks, dude. I owe you a million."

"Send me some of your clothes, and we're square."

"Yeah? I was going to send you some anyway." Frank grinned toothily as he moved beside Mikey. "You get papped sometimes, and I could get lucky."

He let himself back into the main room, and Mikey, feeling oddly breathless but a little more ready to face the throngs, followed.

-

The shoot wasn't in an abandoned warehouse or in a simulated club like Mikey would have guessed. The club might not even have been out of place, considering Frank's aesthetic. No, because Gerard was Gerard and apparently had some creative control, Mikey spent the entire day being hauled in and out of a paddy wagon while he had a chain around his throat. Mikey enjoyed getting his hair spiked and doing his best high-fashion snarl. The cold was less fun - January in New York was a fucking ball - but whatever, at least he was fully dressed and there was no water involved. (He always had to shoot swimwear in the coldest fucking weather.)

Frank was there the whole time, watching with intense eyes. Mikey got the impression he wanted to be thrown around, too.

"Ever been arrested?" Mikey asked on a break, sipping a Red Bull with a straw so his makeup wouldn't be ruined.

"A cop busted me for vandalism once, but I didn't get arrested. I just heard about it until the end of time from my mom." When Frank spied what Mikey suspected was a smirk on his face, he sighed and said, "And yeah, she still talks about the goddamned thing."

"Nice."

"Probably more effective than actual jail."

Mikey imagined the shit he would have gotten from his own mom in that place and shivered. "No kidding. So, when are you sending your clothes to me?"

"My my, we're demanding. It's only been a couple weeks, Way. Give a man a break."

"I would, but I have an event in a couple more weeks to wear them to."

Frank's eyes went wide. "Like, a real thing? My shit?"

"Nah, it's a little thing that no one will see. But there might be a couple photographers."

"You've gone to the Met Gala three years running. I saw your pictures last year. You can't play fucking coy about the level you're on."

Mikey smiled. "Too early for the Met Gala."

"You and Gerard, I swear." Frank sighed. "I'll mail it before the week's out. Happy?"

"Perfect." Mikey ruffled Frank's hair, which made Frank grumble and shrink into his grandpa sweater more. For a designer - and an attractive one at that - he had a real tendency to dress like a old man. "Back to work, then."

-

The shoot with Frank happened on a Tuesday. That Thursday, the person at the door handed Mikey a black box covered in bright-red profanity - printed, which means that Frank had them made officially - and waved Mikey off when he tried to tip him. "The man who left this tipped very generously," he told Mikey. The doorman seemed unconcerned about the whole thing, which made sense considering some of the deliveries Mikey had received in the past. (Gerard was Mikey's brother, after all.)

When Mikey took it upstairs and opened the box, a card was resting on top of the tissue paper protecting the clothes. It was in the same writing as on the box, but the letters were pressed in like it had been written with a pen.

It was a phone number, along with a message, "txt me so i can find the pics when they happen. frnk."

Mikey grinned and added the number to his phone.

-

In retrospect, Mikey was very glad he'd warned Gerard about his event - and specifically told him not to tell Frank - in advance.

See, Mikey was mostly in modeling, and he was always booked in February for Fashion Week shit, but his agent wanted him to branch out into acting. Plenty of models had done it in the past. Granted, all of those actors were way better than Mikey, but he figured his agent could find out the hard way at worst, and, at best, he could diverse his income a little. He wouldn't be the androgynous star of the runways forever. (Although he thought he might age well now that he'd given up drugs and drinking. Stranger things had happened.)

All that was how he ended up stepping onstage at the Oscars, wearing Frank's outfit, to help Ian McKellen introduce clips for one of the Best Picture nominees.

The second he was backstage again, he pulled his phone out of the cleverly designed pockets Frank made in the skirt and texted "Look out for pictures tomorrow! Made my appearance".

He had to put his phone back in his pocket while he rushed off to parties, but the frequent buzzes he felt against his leg made him smile.

-

Mikey made himself wait until he was back in his hotel and wearing slouchy pants in bed before he read the capslock and profanity from an unlisted number. The last message said "i don't care how late it is, call me when you're done for the night". So Mikey called. It was 2 am in Los Angeles - early for Oscars night, but he'd made the important introductions - and there was a chance that Frank might be up on his own steam.

Frank certainly sounded awake when he picked up. "What the fuck, Mikey Way."

"Hello to you, too. Did you see the pictures?"

"I was watching the fucking show with your brother and his husband, and..." Frank sucked in a breath loudly. "They knew."

"Of course they did." Someone had to get the brunt of Mikey's nerves before he flew out to LAX. And after. And while at rehearsal. And just before the red carpet.

"And here I thought their invitation was innocent."

"Honestly, Gerard might have forgotten that I was wearing your clothes," Mikey said. "I mostly talked about making myself look like an asshole on live TV."

"Ray would remember, wouldn't he?"

Mikey grinned. "Hey, congratulations, dude. Someone got your stylishly practical blouse and skirt on the Oscars."

"I'm flying out there to kick your...no, I can't even joke about that. Gerard would kill me. I'm flying out there to scowl at you properly."

Mikey smiled. "Please do. I'm here through Thursday, and I have some meetings tomorrow, but if you can find me Tuesday, I'm all yours. Now tell me a bedtime story so I can get my beauty rest."

To his surprise, Frank did tell him a bedtime story, spinning a yarn about "trolls and goblins and all that shit", and Mikey fell asleep with Frank's voice in his ear.

-

Mikey's Tuesday started with a brisk walk from a hotel in Anaheim, past strollers, through bag check, and to the gates of one of his favorite places in the world.

Yeah. He was at Disneyland again.

Since it was a winter Tuesday, the crowds at the front weren't too bad. He was probably a dozen people back from the turnstiles with a few minutes to go before they let people in, and that was decent. His phone buzzed in his pocket, and he pulled it out to check it; he didn't like to set up work at Disneyland, but there wasn't much else to do, and he could put the phone away once he was inside.

The message was from Frank. It was a picture of Mikey in line from a distance.

Mikey looked up, and sure enough, there was Frank, standing closer to the center of the courtyard. He waved cheerfully when Mikey looked his way and jogged over.

"You know that's some creepy..." Mikey swallowed the word that he would usually use. Disneyland was one of the only places he watched his mouth. "Taking pictures from a distance."

"Hey, you were the one to say that we could hang out if I found you Tuesday." Frank grinned. "Happy to see me?"

Mikey was. "Gerard told you where I was, didn't he?"

"Ray, actually. He told Gerard while I was in earshot that he should text you about some Haunted Mansion sh..."

Mikey put a hand over Frank's mouth and looked pointedly at the toddler in line behind him. Frank looked too, face melting when he saw the curls.

"Stuff," he said when Mikey took his hand away.

Mikey nodded, barely suppressing a smile. It was always better to have a friend at Disneyland. "I'll keep my eyes open."

-

Since this was Mikey's outing, they headed directly to New Orleans Square when they went in. This was probably the millionth time he'd gone on Haunted Mansion, but it didn't stop the thrill in his stomach as he recited the opening monologue under his breath and went down in the elevator. Frank jumped when everyone in the elevator shrieked toward the end, and he playfully pushed at Mikey when Mikey laughed.

They shared a buggy together, and the ride slowed a couple times while they were on, but they were just short of the ballroom when it took a longer break.

"Why'd we stop?" Frank asked quietly, even though the people in the other buggies were talking loudly for them to hear over the ride. "Did it break?"

Mikey shook his head. "They slow or stop the ride to give people in wheelchairs and scooters an easier time getting on."

"Oh. Cool." Frank clapped his hands together a couple times nervously before he said, "Do you know why I came?"

"You dig the Disney parks."

"You kidding? Everyone stepping on each other to make sure their experience is better than the next family's?" Frank waited for Mikey to shove him playfully before he got serious. "I like you, dude. And we don't have any work lined up together, so I feel like I can say it now."

Mikey's breathing felt like it was coming a little rough. "Like. You want to be my best friend, or you like me like you're passing me a note in middle school?"

"Oh yeah, I'd fly across the country to ask you to be my best friend." Frank laughed for a second and then paused, looking thoughtful as the ride started up again. "Actually, I wonder if that would work on Gerard."

"I'm surprised you're not trying to woo my brother, actually." Mikey said it lightly even though his heart was pounding.

"Well, you know, Gerard's a fu..." Frank pulled back before he said something not Disney friendly. "He's a genius. But I'm not into him that way, and I'm not sure his husband would like it if he was."

Mikey tried to imagine Ray being snarly in Frank's direction. No way. Maybe puppy eyes instead. "So you like me like me."

"Yes. That."

"Then...can I kiss you?"

Frank looked thoughtful again, putting a tattooed hand to his chin. Mikey could tell this look wasn't serious, though. "Yeah," he said finally. "Okay."

Mikey leaned in and pressed his lips to Frank's in the middle of the singing graveyard.

"You don't taste like cigarettes," he said, pulling back.

"I'm trying to quit. Nasty fucking habit."

Mikey grinned and went in for another kiss.

-

"And then?"

Mikey shrugged, slipping his hands around his coffee mug. "And then we spent two days at Disneyland together. You know what that's like."

"I know what it's like to spend two days there with you, and I know what it's like to spend two days there with Gerard."

"I just told you the juiciest part."

"You didn't..." Ray leaned in and whispered quietly. "You know."

Mikey shook his head. "We took it slow."

"It's ready!" Gerard swept in from his bedroom with a clothing rack in tow. "Feel like trying it on, Mikey?"

Ray waved a hand at him. "Can't it wait? I'm grilling him about Frank."

"Oh, right." Gerard nodded solemnly. "I saw that Tower of Terror picture you put on Facebook with you kissing his cheek. I was wondering if he'd make a move."

"So you did know he was into me."

"Whatever, it's none of my business." Gerard came over to the breakfast bar where Ray and Mikey were hovering and rested his chin on his hands. "You have another date lined up?"

None of his business. Sure. "We're doing breakfast at my place tomorrow." Ray's eyebrows shot straight up, and Mikey said quickly, "No, no. We're both busy until Fashion Week's over, bare minimum. The Oscars filled up his schedule. Breakfast is the only time he has free."

"Shit," Gerard said sympathetically. "Well, I know he hired Jamia, so that'll ease some of his responsibilities."

"The model?"

"She did that as a favor. She actually works with me. Worked, I guess."

Again, Mikey was shocked. He added Jamia to his mental list of people Gerard had employed in some way and slung his arm around Gerard's shoulder. "You think you can throw more people his way so he can get a weekend?"

Gerard pulled Mikey into a full hug, said "I will give him as many as he'll take", and then pulled back, patting the clothing rack. Mikey grinned and went to grab another outfit.

-

"You're a hell of a cook."

"I know," Mikey said, patting the take-out boxes on the coffee table. "I order with the best of them."

Mikey's place was sunny in the morning, which made it that much more obvious to him that Frank looked absolutely beat. It had only been a week since they'd left Los Angeles, but if Mikey didn't know better, he would have said Frank hadn't slept for a month. But Mikey probably wasn't much better.

And sure enough, when Frank finished eating, he stretched out on Mikey's couch and said, "Talk to me about something that isn't work, please."

"Like what?"

"I don't know. How you got into modeling, maybe?"

Mikey snorts. "I think that counts as work."

"It's not my work." Frank reached for his pocket and then stopped. "Shit. If they can't handle me coming in late today, that's not my fucking problem."

Mikey stretched out in his own chair. His place wasn't as big as Gerard's - he didn't need the space, since he didn't sew and spent a lot of time traveling - but he liked being in it when he could. The footrest with his comfy chair was one of his favorite things in the world.

"I started modeling for Gerard when he was in design school," Mikey said. "I think I've said that. Then other people he graduated with started hiring me, and I'd just graduated high school, so I thought, why not do this for a while before I try college? I could be on my own, save up some money, hang out with Gerard. I slept on his couch whenever I was in town until I could get my own place, which was...six months? Something like that."

"Did you go to college?"

Mikey shook his head. "Got too busy. Maybe I'll go when this all quiets down."

"So what was your big break?"

"You don't know? You could have Googled me."

Frank shrugged. "With what time?"

Mikey sighed. He supposed he would have had to bring this up at some point, if this was going to continue. And it wasn't like Frank didn't know most of it.

"I started modeling women's clothing," Mikey said. "It was after Gerard was getting to be a presence, and he did this...marching band of the damned thing with that Oscar-winner designer?"

"The Black Parade collection." When Mikey raised an eyebrow, Frank held up his hands. "What, you're surprised I have one of his band jackets in my closet?"

Mikey wasn't. He had one, too. "Anyway, he was platinum and I was black-haired back then, and he thought it would be cool if he finished up the show with him in menswear and me like his dark, feminine echo."

"Shit. I need to see pictures of that."

"I should have them around somewhere."

"Sweet." Frank leaned on his arm. "So why is Emme your professional name? So you could crossover to women's modeling?"

Mikey stood and moved over to the couch where Frank was. "Move your legs."

Frank did for a moment, and then he swung them right back when Mikey plopped down next to him.

"I went with Emme," Mikey said, "because I was at a show for a friend of Gerard's, Shaun something, and there was a photographer, and he asked the manager what my name was. We were all listed with our first initials, right? So the manager read 'M. Way' because she didn't know who the fuck I was. The picture went up on Getty with me listed as 'Emme Way', and that was right before Gerard's show, so I thought, yeah, okay. And then I made way more money when I did runway and photoshoots as a woman, so...Emme."

Frank nodded. "It's badass. It's not like I could do Effe or whatever the fuck and have it sound like a real name."

"Is that why you're frnk?" Mikey pronounced it without the vowels. It sounded more like a door creak than a word or a name.

"Hey, I can't sound like a normal guy on the street. I wasn't given a name like Gerard. Is your full name Michael?"

"Birth name, yeah." Well, here was his opportunity. Mikey took a breath, and then another, before following up. "I don't go by Michael ever. People who are good with Gerard and with me use Mikey. But...you know, there's other reasons for Emme. I didn't just go into women's modeling for the money."

"Yeah?"

"Yeah. It's...it's hard to put into words. But I'm not a man. Not just a man." There was a word, actually. Several. Genderqueer, genderfluid, non-binary...his favorite changed depending on his mood. But for some reason, Mikey could call himself Emme and go out in a dress - he wore a dress in Gerard's wedding, as his Best Person of Honor - and he could refer to himself as him without any problems, but a specific label for his gender was Mikey's and no one else's, so he didn't share it much. "There's parts of me that are a woman. Or neither. Or both. Or something else. I wake up on different days feeling different ways."

Frank nodded for a second, and Mikey listened to his heart pounding in his ears. This part never got easier. Wanting something special with Frank didn't make it easier or harder; it was just hard, and it always would be.

"You always want me to call you Mikey? Except professionally."

Mikey nodded.

"And is it he when I talk about you? Or something else? Does it change?"

"Just he," Mikey said carefully.

After another heart-pounding moment, Frank said, "Okay. Can we hug now?"

"Yes," Mikey said, relieved, and went into Frank's outreached arms.

-

Fashion Week was always a blur, and Mikey worked constantly. But he received a ticket to Frank's show along with Gerard, and of course he wasn't going to turn that down. He and Gerard got front row, and Ray was there too, but he sat in the row behind them because he wasn't as famous.

"Or as photogenic," Ray said cheerfully. He didn't care that he wasn't on the front row. He was a techie who didn't want the stress of squeezing between Kayne West (who was on Mikey's right side) and Anna Wintour (who was several people down on Gerard's left, but her gaze was everywhere). Mikey could understand wanting to be invisible, even though he was thrilled to have cameras at his face at this event in particular.

Gerard, on the other hand, had to be prompted to not just scowl at everything.

"You're here as his friend," Mikey muttered under his breath, going for quiet intensity for a photographer nearby. "You shouldn't look like you're off to the gallows."

"Ray should be sitting next to us," Gerard said in a low growl.

"I'm fine." Ray even patted Gerard's shoulder because he was that close. There really wasn't much noticeable difference. "Frank asked me if I wanted front row. I told him no."

Gerard put his hand over Ray's, and his expression softened, but he still didn't look entirely happy. "But why? I like having you with me."

"I am with you! It's not like I'm exiled to the Wall or anything."

A smile appeared on Gerard's lips. "I would hate it if you joined the Night's Watch. You would have to be celibate."

That was the Gerard that Mikey knew, couching his sexy talk with Ray in nerdy references. Mikey patted Gerard's knee and turned to watch the show.

Which turned out to be more of a show than Mikey expected.

He'd noticed the band on a corner of the stage; the stage itself was all white and clean and standard high fashion, but the entire band came out in jeans and ski masks, and Mikey recognized Frank right away. His breath left him when Frank picked up a guitar and started thrashing away. He barely noticed when the models came out with silly string and sprayed token figures in the front row.

(Gerard did whisper in advance, "Oh hey, I volunteered us to be Frank's victims in the show", but Mikey was watching Frank writhe onstage on his back, so he just muttered "Uh huh" and brushed away the line of silly string that made it on his cheek.)

When the show finished, Frank and the band whipped off their ski masks, and Frank was sweaty and flushed and glorious. He walked to the front arm-in-arm with his band, and Mikey got to his feet, applauding like he would if he was on the barrier at an actual concert instead of at a fashion show. Frank stopped specifically in front of them for a small bow, and Gerard whipped out his own can of silly string, spraying Frank on his leg a little.

Ray leaned forward as multiple flashes went off in front of Frank. "You're cute when you're into someone."

"Shut the fuck up," Mikey said cheerfully, and clapped some more.

-

There were two parties afterward: one was in a very public, very splashy place. The second was at Gerard's and had less than two dozen people. It was no secret which one Mikey preferred to go to.

After the standard backstage congratulations and hugging - and pictures, which Mikey hoped caught his good angles - Frank said, squeezing Mikey's hand, "I'll meet you at Gerard's in about two hours, okay? I have to make the public appearance first."

"Wait," Mikey said, using their hand hold to keep Frank back. "Do you want me to go?"

Frank's face scrunched. "Do you wanna go?"

Mikey didn't answer right away, but judging by the way Frank laughed, he was conveying his feelings pretty well.

"Do you want me there?" Mikey asked, and then shook his head. "Okay, I'll stop answering questions with questions. Yeah, I'd rather go to Gerard's party. But not if you're not there."

Frank's face brightened. "You think I'd want to meet Beyoncé without you?"

"Gee got Beyoncé?" Gerard, of course, was responsible for both parties and all the celebrities in attendance.

"I don't fucking know. I probably wouldn't even know Beyoncé if she was there."

Mikey cackled. "Okay, now I have to go and see which famous people you'd blow off by accident. That's too good to pass up."

They smiled at each other for a minute, and then Frank kissed the back of Mikey's hand and said, "Sit on my lap in the limo. It'll make for better paparazzi shots."

Mikey couldn't resist a good challenge.

-

Beyoncé wasn't there, but Justin Bieber was, and it made Mikey's life to see Frank not only recognize him, but give him the cold shoulder. Still, it was even better afterward, when they finally escaped to the cooler street air after being subjected to a stuffy club for an hour.

"I don't want to get in a car now," Mikey said.

"So let's not. I want to talk to you about something anyway."

"Uh, Gee's place is about thirty blocks away."

Frank grinned. "Oh. Is that far?"

Mikey shoved him a little, but he gratefully accepted the kiss that Frank laid on his lips when he pulled him in. Mikey was taller than Frank, and he found he liked that a lot.

"So we walk for a couple blocks and get a cab the rest of the way." Frank looked so deceptively sweet that Mikey couldn't see himself turning Frank down.

And really, it did feel good to stretch his legs. Mikey had spent the evening sitting at the show and standing mostly in one place in the club, and Frank set a quick pace for someone who was notably shorter. Frank seemed like Gerard in that way, burning until he just couldn't stop anymore. It wasn't just his walk that tipped Mikey off, but it was as good an example as any.

For some reason, it was when Mikey was thinking about this that he blurted, "Do you think it's weird that we haven't fucked yet?"

Frank stopped so hard in his tracks that he nearly tripped over his feet. It was only by clinging to Mikey's arm - they'd been holding hands for the entire walk - that he managed to keep his balance. He also sounded like he was wheezing, but it was only when Mikey leaned in to ask if he was okay that he realized Frank was laughing.

"Shit, Mikey Way," Frank managed to get out. "You don't hold it back, do you?"

"Uh..."

"No, it's a good thing. It's kind of related to what I wanted to talk about anyway."

"Oh." Mikey blinked. "So you don't think it's weird?"

"Shit no. I've been so busy that I don't think I could have gotten it up if I wanted to." Frank started walking again, but more casually this time, swinging their clasping hands between them. "I was thinking that you and I should clear a week and go away together."

Mikey grinned, a zing of exhilaration racing through him. He liked that idea a lot. "Yeah?"

"Jamia's been practically shoving me out the door." Frank sighed. "My stomach crap's been flaring up again. I've barely been sleeping, so I've been working while I can't sleep, and..."

"...that just makes your stomach worse," Mikey finished. "So. Being with me would be relaxing?"

"I like hanging out with you, in case you didn't notice. But I probably won't be up for any fucking for at least the first couple days. I'll probably sleep for forty-eight hours."

"Better make sure we have at least twice that, then."

"So you're in?"

Mikey nodded eagerly. "I actually have to take some time off, too. It's part of, uh. My recovery. I'm more likely to relapse if I don't take some time to myself. Past history, and everything."

Frank didn't flinch or so much as twitch, which suggested to Mikey that he and Gerard had spoken about the Way siblings and their addictions before. "Fuck yeah. This gives us something to talk about at Gerard's party. We can start planning."

"You're obviously a fun guy to have at parties," Mikey said, but he was still smiling as Frank went to hail a cab.

-

They actually ended up taking two weeks off. Mikey had a lull in his schedule - partially because the people who usually booked him weren't as busy at the point they're both looking at, and partially because Mikey had sensed his own need for time off was pending - and Frank was already making his own team take a week off by closing the shop, so he piggybacked on top of that by another week. Again at Jamia's insistence, apparently. Mikey didn't know her personally, but he liked everything he'd heard at this point.

Gerard insisted Mikey take his cabin at Lake Tahoe, so they ended up flying out west again. This time, Mikey and Frank flew on the plane together and slept on each other's shoulders. Way nicer than traveling alone. (They also went first class, Mikey because he often flew coach for work, and Frank because his new bump in economic status had to be celebrated in "the most ridiculous way", as he put it.)

It was obviously still cold in the area, although not cold enough that there was much snow in the mountains. Frank had on twice as many sweaters as usual, even in the rental car that Mikey drove up to the cabin, and looked grumpy about the circumstances.

"How the fuck are we supposed to do anything when spring is still this fucking cold?" Frank muttered.

"It's colder at home."

"And we left that fucking shithole, so I don't see your point. Shit. Why did I ever agree to roughing it?"

Mikey smiled. "Yes, Gerard Way is synonymous with the idea of 'roughing it'."

It wasn't until they pulled up to the "cabin" that Mikey saw Frank's scowl chip away. The view was nice with the blue lake and copious trees around them, and the cabin looked like...well, the modest mansion it was.

"So I guess I don't have to worry about not having internet?" Frank said as Mikey parked the car in the garage.

"Or about missing video games. Or TV."

"If this is roughing it Way style, I'm in," Frank said. "Show me where we'll be sleeping. I have a lot of catching up to do."

-

They did end up sleeping a lot, in Mikey's room. (Gerard said the master was all theirs if they wanted it, but Mikey liked the view in his room better. He also loved that it was Gerard's house, but he still had a dedicated room in it.) Despite what Frank said, neither of them slept for forty-eight hours straight, but Frank definitely got twelve or thirteen. Mikey was closer to ten, but he listened to music on his phone for at least an hour or two in bed after that, and he wasn't entirely awake, so he wasn't that far behind Frank.

He still beat Frank to the kitchen and was eating out of a bag of chips when Frank stumbled in, hair rumpled and eyes puffy.

"I made coffee," Mikey said.

Frank grunted and shuffled in that direction. The kitchen didn't smell too strongly of coffee because Mikey cracked the window for a while - even as cold as it was, he liked the scent of pine, and that was the best way to get it without going outside - but there was enough of it mixing with the tree smell to really give Mikey that feeling of "I'm on vacation". He felt more relaxed just smelling it.

Mikey watched Frank take out a novelty mug - Star Wars, so it could have come from anyone - and fill it with coffee. He looked back at the phone on the counter when it buzzes with a text from Gerard, so he didn't see what Frank added, and he kicked himself a second later. Coffee knowledge is crucial to have.

"Who are you talking to?" Frank's voice is still gruff from sleep as he slides up to Mikey.

"Gee." He wouldn't text anyone but Gerard or Ray while he was on the trip. Maybe his mom. "He wanted to know how we're liking the place."

"What did you say?"

"I said that it felt as nice to me as it ever does, and you were too busy sleeping to give your review. And then we started in on a Grant Morrison tangent." Mikey wasn't sure how that happened, but it wasn't uncommon for them to start on literally anything else and end on Grant Morrison. Mikey remembered one day where they were talking about laundry delivery, and somehow, that spun into Doom Patrol.

Frank hummed. "Been there. Wanna watch a movie or something while I eat? I feel like staring at something mindless."

Mikey nodded, and Frank shuffled off again to rummage through the pantry.

-

They ended up spending their day watching the Netflix Daredevil, since Gerard's internet connection was good and neither of them felt particularly inclined to move. They both napped at different parts of the day. Mikey's was earlier; he woke up when Fisk did something really violent and gross with a start, and Frank laughed at him. Of course, then it was Frank's turn to fall asleep and wake up when Matt was getting the shit kicked out of him, so he didn't grumble much when Mikey took his own turn dorky laughing.

Mikey was totally ready to sleep again after the show was over. Frank seemed bouncier, and handsier, but Mikey had to beg off sex.

"It isn't you," Mikey promised after he yawned in Frank's face after making out for a few minutes. "I think...I always have a harder time in the spring, feeling depressed. I'm not sure why, but it's harder."

"I get it." Frank shook his head. "No, I mean, I don't have depression or anything, but my stomach makes me do some pretty disgusting and painful things, so it's not like I'm super horny when that happens."

Mikey smiled. "Mental puking and cramps. That's me."

He was still feeling heavy when he went upstairs and took his nighttime pills (and checked to make sure he hadn't missed any by accident, which he didn't). Frank trailed after him and spooned him, taking the outside position.

"They call this jetpacking," Frank whispered in Mikey's ear. "But fuck that. I'm a big fucking spoon."

Mikey hugged Frank's arm. "Biggest spoon," he said back, voice sounding drowsy.

-

Dreams sucked.

Mikey woke up with a start three hours after he fell asleep, exhaustion made sharp by panic. Frank wasn't in bed with him; if the distant thudding Mikey could hear was any way to tell, Frank was probably watching another movie or playing a game or something. And why not? It was the middle of the night, they weren't going to wake anyone up, and they were on vacation.

The dreams stayed in Mikey's head as he went downstairs. Frank was playing some kind of racing game - as a cop car? Okay, whatever - and cursed a blue streak as something happened, tossing the controller on the couch so he could stomp around. Mikey leaned against the wall and watched it, and his heart was still racing, but he couldn't help but smile anyway.

Frank finally noticed him when he went to get the controller again. "Shit. Did I wake you up?"

Mikey shook his head. "Nightmares."

"You want to talk about it?"

"I want to forget them. Having fun?"

Frank nodded, beaming. "I haven't been on a real vacation for, like, three years. Not counting Disneyland. I should do this more often."

"I like to do it once per season if I can work it out." Mikey yawned.

"Tired?"

Mikey nodded.

"You want to cuddle some more?"

"I probably won't get back to sleep yet."

Frank frowned, obviously thinking about something, and then he brightened. "Actually, I have an idea."

-

The view from the master bathroom wasn't anything worth writing home about at night. There were some lights in the yard, and the lights from the bathroom reflected out, illuminating some trees, but everything beyond was just dark. Mikey liked sitting outside and stargazing around here; there was so much to see that was impossible in a city. But the darkness was creepy after nightmares.

Luckily, Frank looked at the window as he stripped down and said, "Fuck, good thing you don't have any neighbors," and climbed into Gerard's tub facing away from the windows. There was a TV on that side, but he didn't make a move to turn it on. "Now you."

Mikey perched on the side of the bathtub and said, "Mind if I ogle you first?"

Frank's grin was huge. He waved over his body. "Be my guest."

There was a lot to ogle. Frank's body wasn't sculpted, but there was some tone hidden in there, and it was all adorned with tattoos. Mikey had seen hints before, of course, but Frank was so into sweaters that mostly he'd seen the neck and hand tattoos. There was so much more underneath.

"I can't believe you've had all this ink done," Mikey said, grazing his fingertips over Frank's arm. "How did you afford it?"

"I didn't?" Frank laughed. "Let's just say I had a lot of debt until...well, I still have some, but I should finish paying it off this year if the money keeps coming in."

"Whoa. All that was tattoos?"

"No, it's mostly my failed attempt at college and my successful attempt at design school. But the tattoos didn't help."

Mikey brushed his fingers over Frank's neck, where a scorpion sat. Frank shivered just enough for Mikey to see.

"Then I'm extra happy I did your show," Mikey said. "If it means you can get more of these in the future."

Frank grinned. "It's too bad we're in the middle of nowhere, or I'd get one so you could watch. Future date night, maybe?"

"Definitely."

Mikey sensed it was time for him to take off his own clothes, so he pulled back far enough from the tub that he could start doing that. He wore clothes for a living and often took them off or wore very little around other people backstage or in photoshoots, and he was happy with his body and the versatility it gave him. But there was still part of him that wanted to turn away from Frank, climb into the tub with his eyes closed, and just...not worry about how he looked at this point.

But Frank had let Mikey look, so Mikey shed his clothes without turning away. He definitely felt better naked than at in-between points, so when he climbed in the tub in front of Frank and settled into his arms, he felt good.

Frank hugged him. "Thanks for doing this, babe."

"What, get naked?"

"No. Well, yes." Frank patted Mikey's torso. "I meant the trip. I'm having a great time."

Mikey smiled and closed his eyes. "Glad you came."

-

Nothing sexy happened in the bathtub. Or, rather, orgasms didn't happen; Mikey getting to be naked with Frank for the first time certainly qualified on the sexy scale. But to Mikey's embarrassment, he fell asleep after five minutes snuggled up with Frank. Mikey couldn't even sleep on planes where seats stretched out like beds, but in a bathtub? Lying on a guy who was kind of bony? Out like a light.

He woke up when Frank whispered in ear and let Frank help him out of the tub and dry him down. Mikey didn't know how he'd gotten someone like Frank - Frank, who was talented and weird and a piece of home in a different state - to take care of him, but Mikey definitely wasn't complaining.

And despite how relaxed Mikey was in the bath, he was way more relaxed in an actual bed, skin to skin with Frank.

-

A couple more days passed in that vein. Frank and Mikey would sleep and be awake at contrary hours, but they would spend time together in their shared waking moments, and they would snuggle until someone woke up again. Mikey was starting to see how this could work more long-term, and that...that didn't scare him as much as it used to.

He told Frank about it at one of their meals (breakfast for Frank, lunch for Mikey).

"I was in a relationship during one of my more...spectacular breakdowns. It didn't go well." Mikey shook his head. "No, that doesn't really cover it. I was a shithead."

Frank nodded in the middle of eating his vegetarian noodles. (The house wasn't close to much, but there was a good Chinese place a couple miles down the road, along with the nearest grocery store, in a shopping center that looked like a slightly bigger log cabin.)

"That relationship is most of my experience. You know, in romance or..." Mikey waved his free hand to convey "whatever". "It wasn't too terrible for a while, and then I completely fucked it up. I think I can avoid repeating that, but it's, you know. In my history."

Mikey paused, maybe to let Frank react, but Frank had another mouthful of food, so Mikey figured he should get to the point. "It scared me off anything that wasn't me hanging out with Gerard for a long time. Well, I guess that's not true. Being in a generally shitty place scared me off. I used to be a lot louder. A lot more social. And I've gotten some of that back, but I haven't done...this since the breakup."

Frank swallowed his food, and he said, "But you want to, is what I'm getting from this?"

"Yeah." The word came out like he was exhaling it. "I'm comfortable around you. I can't remember the last time I could say that."

Frank grinned. "That's nice to hear."

"Yeah?"

"No. It's terrible to hear that the person you're falling for doesn't feel uncomfortable around you." Frank looked thoughtful. "Do you use boyfriend or girlfriend or something else?"

Mikey felt his eyebrows climb up his forehead.

"Oh, shit." Frank smacked his palm against his forehead. "I was going to say 'Do you want to talk about being serious' or something first. Fuck. What is my fucking problem?"

Mikey laughed. "Asshole, this was me trying to work up the nerve to ask if we could bone. Can we come up with gender-neutral terms for what we are later?"

Frank carefully placed his bowl on the counter. "Yes. Let's do that."

He ran out of the room, leaving Mikey cackling behind him. When Mikey didn't follow him, Frank ran back in, shirt off, but his pants and one sock on.

"Uh, I guess I need you for this?" Frank asked.

Mikey pushed his own food away from him and came up to Frank, circling his arms around Frank's neck and kissing him.

"Suppose you could just use your hand," Mikey said when he pulled back. "But I've been thinking about your hands, so if you don't mind loaning them..."

"Move your ass, Way. Come on." Frank circled around behind Mikey and gently leaned on him until Mikey got the hint and went for the bedroom.

There wasn't any of the awkwardness that had been following Mikey every time he looked at Frank as he stripped down. Well, maybe there were still some awkward qualities - they both got naked and tripped over the bed in their haste to get to each other - but it definitely wasn't holding Mikey back.

As they kissed, and Mikey could feel his dick getting interested in the press of Frank against him, Mikey muttered, "You have to have some shit to deal with, right? You can't just be cool with everything."

"Don't...mmm, that feels good." Mikey was scratching lightly at Frank's back. It felt more intimate than sexy, but that was just as important right now, Mikey thought. "Don't worry. I'm way more fucked up than you are. I just bottle that shit up."

"And store it away?"

"Nah, it's kind of like a grenade. It just explodes and I end up crying in my apartment by myself for a few days." Frank nibbled on Mikey's neck. "Fuck, your throat is amazing. What do you think about hickies?"

"Feel good, look like shit."

"We're going to be away from work long enough to let them heal."

Mikey honked a laugh. "But if you start, I'll never be able to ask you to stop."

Frank did a put-upon sigh, but honestly, he seemed perfectly happy nibbling his way down, especially when he saw what nibbling did when he did it gently to Mikey's nipples. "Oh, really," he said, amused. "My nipples aren't half this sensitive."

"Fuck you," Mikey said, but he knew he didn't sound pissed off.

"What do you want? You said something about my hands."

Mikey kissed Frank's shoulder and rolled away from him until he got to his bedside table. He pulled out a bottle of lube and tossed it to Frank. "Fingers only," Mikey said. "I'm not really into more."

"You say that like this is a fucking consolation prize." To Mikey's surprise, after Frank put a little on his palms and rubbed them together to warm it up, Frank went for Mikey's cock. Mikey arched into the touch. Talk about things he wasn't complaining about.

But still. "What..."

"I want to see you come this way," Frank said. "So I can just take in how it looks."

It wasn't particularly surprising that Frank was into the visual side of this. But Mikey found himself biting his lip and wanting to hide away a little. Sex wasn't sexy, not in the way modeling was. There was no makeup, no Photoshop that could cover up the imperfections, and no video editing to take out the sexy grunts or the weird twitches Mikey had as Frank brought him closer.

But after a minute, Mikey noticed Frank was hard, and he hadn't been before Frank had started jerking Mikey off. He looked nearly as frantic as Mikey felt.

"F-frantic," Mikey got out, his laugh sounding more like a choke than anything. "Frantic Frank."

Frank kissed Mikey hungrily, and that's how Mikey came, with Frank's lube-slick hands squeezing just the little bit around Mikey's cock and Frank's tongue in Mikey's mouth. The come got on Mikey's stomach and felt kind of gross in the best possible sex way.

"You are such a dork," Frank said.

"Wouldn't Franktic make a good collection name? Or maybe for your house in general."

"Are you seriously trying to do my fucking job right now?"

Mikey was too fucked out to do more than giggle. "Inspiration was there, dude."

Frank rolled his eyes and went back for the bottle of lube. "It's a good thing I'm into you, Way. I swear to fucking god."

Mikey frowned at Frank's hands. "Uh, I thought it was your turn."

"Turns? Are we in elementary school?"

"No, but..."

"Here." Frank handed the bottle of lube over. "If you think you can do it, you can jerk me off while I finger you."

Mikey raised an eyebrow, but he got some lube on his right hand. "You think you're that good at this?"

"Please. I don't think. I know." Frank looked around. "You should get a pillow, since you're the only one with a hand not covered in lube."

Butterflies fluttered in Mikey's stomach as he grabbed a pillow and awkwardly shifted his hips up to put it underneath him, but they were good butterflies. Just the kind of butterflies Mikey always got when he slept with someone new.

"Come closer," Mikey said once he was settled.

"Right, shit." Frank bounced over on his knees. At least Mikey wasn't the only awkward one. "Guess you need to be close enough for this, huh. I was going to ask you to hold your legs up, but I forgot."

"Some other time." Mikey took Frank in hand and did a couple quick, light jerks to spread the lube out.

Frank groaned. "Fuck, you're not getting ahead of me on this one."

"If you come first, you can come on my face," Mikey said.

Frank made a strangled noise and shook his head, but he didn't just...dive for Mikey's hole, which Mikey appreciated. Frank carefully felt for it, and he took his own time spreading lube over Mikey's hole, very carefully.

It felt good - great, even - but even though Frank was doing what he could to hold back, taking breaks from jerking himself off to grip the base of his cock, it was still obvious Frank was going to come first. Mikey wasn't a teenager anymore. He needed more time to get worked up again.

"Here," he said after Frank was shivering from how close he was, rolling away from Frank's touch and repositioning so his face was right in front of Frank's cock. "Do it."

Frank muttered something about messing Mikey up and looked embarrassed a moment later, but Mikey thought it was pretty hot. He liked to think of himself as a canvas in a lot of ways, and sex was just another way.

"Get me messy," Mikey said, closing his eyes. "I want you to."

He didn't see Frank come, but Mikey felt Frank's come on his face, warm and sticky. God, Mikey loved it messy. He could feel the lube on his hole and a little bit of his own come drying on his stomach, and Frank's come on his face, and it was fucking fantastic.

When he opened his eyes again, Frank was flushed and sweaty and completely wrecked. "Fuck," Frank said.

"Yeah," Mikey said.

"Hang on, I'm going to get something to wash you off with." Frank grinned. "And then I'm making you come again."

Mikey smiled. "If you have to."

Frank got wet wipes from the bathroom. Mikey had them here - and whenever he went out - for makeup reasons, but the smell of them always reminded him of sex, and he liked that combined with Frank's touch, with the sight of all that inked skin against Mikey's empty skin.

He didn't know why that was the moment that Mikey was sure Frank would stick around, but it was. Mikey just hoped he wouldn't fuck it up.

Once they were both freshly clean, Frank got the lube again and went back to Mikey's hole, carefully again until Mikey met his gaze and nodded to urge him on. Frank slid a finger inside Mikey carefully at that point, and Mikey hummed.

Frank kept it slow. Very slow. Mikey still needed recovery time, of course, but he was almost entirely hard when Frank finally slid another finger inside Mikey. Thanks to all Frank's careful prep, it went in easily.

"Don't..." Mikey took a breath. "Don't have to treat me like a doll."

Frank kissed his arm. "Hey, I'm on vacation. Plenty of time for quickies when we're both about to run off to work or whatever the fuck."

"You promise?"

Frank grinned and picked up the pace of his fingers.

Mikey came with three fingers inside him after what felt like an eternity. Frank barely had to jerk him off at that point.

-

By the time their vacation was over, they'd fucked a lot. Mikey couldn't remember when he'd last been so pleasantly sore and relaxed. It didn't feel like too great a loss on their last day that they got their orgasms in between straightening up; they would have plenty of opportunity in the city to see each other, even if they were busy.

(The truth was, they both missed work. Mikey spotted Frank putting sketches in his luggage when he was cleaning up, and Mikey had opened his phone to work texts and calls again the day before. It was always better when he left vacation with a little bit of that itch, really.)

They watched sunset that evening from the balcony in Gerard's room, Frank snuggled up behind Mikey. He'd stopped complaining about the cold after the first day. All the cuddling they'd done probably helped.

"What do you think about partner?" Mikey asked.

"Hmm?"

"I mean, you can be my boyfriend if you want. But partner seems like it works. People know it already."

Frank laughed. "Kind of serious, isn't it? Sounds like we're married."

Mikey firmly ignored the thrill that shot through him. "Something wrong with that?"

The question hung in the air for a moment. Frank hugged Mikey tighter before he answered. "No. Not at all."

-

One year later

With a Met Gala celebrating the Costume Institute's new theme of Gerard Way: Parades and Punk Pageantry, there was no way Mikey wouldn't go. Or Frank, for that matter. They hadn't missed last year's, of course. Frank had taken Jamia with him as his model at Mikey's insistence; he deserved to be there on his own steam, and Mikey had already been committed to Zac Posen for months.

But Gerard's year? There was no one else they could pair with.

Mikey loved the outfit Frank made for Mikey. It fit the more colorful tones of Gerard's recent works, with a Mad-Max-meets-ballroom vibe. Mikey's outer coat looked like a leather jacket turned into a ball gown. His inner outfit was plain and hugged his body so as not to draw attention away.

He and Frank talked with the press all along the carpet before the stairs, but his favorite interview was their last in the line because of the way it started.

"Frnk, I see you brought your..." The interviewer paused, obviously searching for the correct word.

But Frank, grinning, supplied it as he took Mikey's hand. "My spouse."

Mikey didn't turn off his high-fashion pout, but he squeezed Frank's hand happily.