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Projekt Revolution
August 14, 2007
Virginia Beach

 

The crowds on Projekt Revolution were fucking huge, and fucking amazing. Even the kids that didn't start out on My Chem's side came around every night; by the end of each set they were yelling and screaming along with everyone else.

The band was great at giving the asshole punks in the audience the biggest 'fuck you' they could imagine, antagonizing them not with threats of violence, but with makeouts and groping. Gerard's voice had never sounded so fucking incredible, and if Mikey's absence was a constant hole, Cortez papered over it well enough. The knowledge that Mikey was getting what he needed from the time off helped.

And Frank had his family with him, his dog and his wife—his wife, what the fuck—which meant that the only bad part of touring should have disappeared. He should have been happier than he had ever been before.

He was fucking miserable.

//

 

Projekt Revolution
July 25, 2007
Seattle

 

It didn't matter how many times they did this, or how recently the last tour had ended. Frank always spent the first day of any new tour in a bundle of nerves, bouncing from one distraction to the next, just waiting to get up on stage.

It was no different this time, although at least he had Jamia there to help prevent him from jittering apart. Even she could only deal with him for so long, though. He was clear on exactly how annoying he was when he was like this; he'd been informed of it many times.

But finally they were backstage, soundcheck already taken care of, the kids in the crowd primed by the earlier acts to have a good time. They were ready to go. He glanced over at Cortez a couple of times, trying not to be too obvious, trying not to make it clear that he was checking him out. But Matt would be solid; he'd proven that in Europe during the festivals. He knew the material and, more importantly, he knew them.

Once they were finally on stage, the lights bright and harsh on them, the summer air sticking to his arms and in his lungs, everything was okay. Better than okay, it was fucking amazing, even if it was an adjustment to be playing back in the States again, and in front of a crowd that wasn't all their kids. It was clear from the start that this was going to be a battle, this summer, but they were ready for it. No way were they going to fucking lose this shit.

He could tell from the look on Gerard's face that he agreed. The manic energy that poured out of him, the way his hips popped ever more aggressively as the night went on, made that clear. By the time the boa came out for Mama, he was in full control—fucking daring the crowd to come for them, to be more than just the fucking cowards yelling 'faggots' up at them.

That wasn't what stood out to Frank most of all, though. The main moment that stuck in his brain, that he still wasn't over after months of playing it, was the crowd's full-throated response the second Dewees played the opening G of Welcome to the Black Parade. They still got a huge reaction for I'm Not Okay, for a lot of Revenge, actually, but this was something different: for at least one song, even the most bigoted fucking dudebro in that crowd was on their side. It made him want to smile through a mouthful of blood from one too many punches to the jaw, to fucking spit it in their faces and tell them, We got you anyway. We still fucking won.

After the show it was like any concert, post-gig cigarettes and a beer in a sea of buses, shooting the shit with his guys and riding out the high as long as he could. He'd stick around sometime later this week to see Linkin Park, but not tonight; he didn't have the focus for that shit right now. Right now was about being with his band.

The first night of a big tour like this was like the first day of school after a long summer break. It was time to see the kids you already knew and meet the new ones. When he and Jamia found Gerard and Bob leaning up against the My Chem bus, MSI was already there, Jimmy and Steve and Kitty slouched up next to their bus across from them, and Lindsey down on the asphalt, legs splayed.

He plopped down next to her, tugging Jamia down. "Hey." It had been a long time, but better to just assume that they all remembered him, or at least knew enough to just fake it at first.

Lindsey seemed to be up on the game, at least. "Hi!" She smiled and leaned forward to see Jamia, waving. "How'd your set go?"

Gerard answered before Frank could. "It was fucking great," he almost drawled, taking a long drag from his cigarette. Frank felt his fingers itching and reached into his hoodie for his smokes.

He tilted the pack towards Lindsey. "You want?"

"Sure." Frank flipped open the top for her and held it steady as she got one out, then slipped two out for him and J. He lit his own first, then got Jamia's going for her before passing the lighter over to Lindsey. The nicotine settled right down in his blood, but he still felt restless, like he could run for a couple of miles and have energy to spare. He laughed at himself. He'd fucking collapse after like a quarter of a mile. He took another drag.

"You guys have a good show?" Jamia asked from around Frank, moving forward so she wasn't totally cut off from everyone else.

Lindsey really smiled this time, teeth white and gleaming in the lights from above. "Fucking awesome. Little bastards didn't know what had hit them."

Frank grinned back. "That's the fucking best. I'm gonna come check out your stage once we hit California. I thought about doing it today, but." He shrugged.

"Frank was too busy being a little shit to pay attention to anyone else," Bob contributed from above.

"That's right," Frank said confidently. "I have a method, Bob. Don't fuck with it. I've gotta get into a groove."

"You're underselling yourself again. You are naturally that obnoxious. You don't need to warm up," Bob said, his voice resigned.

Frank tilted his head back and said, "Aw, Bob, you say the nicest things."

"Are these two playing tonight, too?" Jimmy suddenly interjected, gesturing at Frank and Jamia but looking at Gerard.

"Playing what?" Frank asked, as Gerard somehow managed to choke on his smoke like he was a twelve year old kid hiding behind the Quick Chek with his first cigarette.

Gerard flapped his free hand and shook his head as he tried to get through it. "Nah, there's no way Frank'll say yes to a Magic tournament," he finally made out, his voice tight and high.

Frank turned to Lindsey, giddy with disbelief. "Wait, you guys play Magic? Oh thank Christ, maybe he'll stop bugging me about it all summer long then."

"You would like it if you gave it a shot, Frank," Gerard said for the billionth time.

Frank waved a hand at him. "I'll leave the twenty-sided dice to you, Gee."

"That's D&D, Frankie," Gerard corrected, his voice somehow both judging and fond.

"See? I'd be terrible at this stuff."

Lindsey is full out laughing at him by now. "I don't actually really play, but these fuckers are obsessed. Mostly I just watch."

"Oh man, how many decks do they have?" Jamia asked, leaning her cheek up against Frank's shoulder. He adjusted a little, got his arm around her and pulled her closer.

"I have lost count," Lindsey answered, the laughter still audible in her voice.

"Actually, you don't really have multiple decks, more like one master one," Gerard began, with the air of someone who's had this conversation many times before.

Frank just smiled and relaxed as much as he could while on the ground leaning against a bus tire. This summer was going to be fucking awesome.

 

March 18, 2003
Belleville

 

The first time Jamia mentioned it, they were at Frank's mom's house, and Frank was fucking high as a kite and still panting on top of her after fucking her through the mattress.

Her hands stroked over his back lazily, the sensation making him want to shiver and also grow a second dick so he could fuck her again right now. Man, a second dick would be fucking awesome. "Frank?" she murmured in his ear.

Maybe she wanted him to have a second dick too. "Yeah?" he answered, shifting over until he was flopped next to her on the bed and staring into her eyes. They were so fucking big.

"Have you ever fucked around with a dude?"

It was like a fucking ambush or something.

He stared at her for a few seconds, trying to figure out what was going on, but her face looked as calm as her voice had sounded. "Have you fucked around with a girl?" he shot back, mostly in an attempt to buy some time.

That tactic fucking failed immediately when she shrugged and nodded. "Yeah."

All of a sudden this conversation was much more interesting. "Wait—really?"

It was almost reassuring when she rolled her eyes and blew her bangs out of her face. At least that was somewhat familiar. "Oh god, don't be that guy—"

"Hey, no, I mean," Frank got out, trying to figure out how to not be that guy when, let's face it, he totally was that guy. Especially when he was high. "I'm not. I don't need you to give me like all the details or whatever, okay?"

Jamia's face was more cautious than he liked to see, at least when she was looking at him. "I don't mind talking about it."

"You could also tell me all about it, if you wanted," Frank said magnanimously. He had a sudden bolt of inspiration. "But hey, you asked me a question before."

She eyed him. "I did."

Frank shrugged and ran his hand up over her belly to her tits, brushing over her right nipple with the pads of his fingers. "Well, I'll answer it. If you want to know."

Jamia squirmed a little under his touch but didn't push his hand away. "Well?"

His heart was pounding as he wriggled a little closer to her, palming her breast and pushing his hips against her soft skin. "I haven't. But. I mean. I've definitely thought about it," he said against her neck, pressing even closer. "Just never really got around to it." She arched up a little into his hand, and he thumbed over her nipple, which was hard and obvious now.

He bent down and flicked his tongue over her nipple, sucking on it while his hand drifted back down between her legs, fingertips seeking out her clit. She breathed in sharply when he started stroking her, her legs falling open again.

By the time his dick was hard again, he was going to make her come twice more, he decided. Maybe even three times.

 

Projekt Revolution
July 28, 2007
San Bernardino

 

The crowd the second night wasn't any less hostile; if anything, it was worse, right from the start. It wasn't anything they hadn't dealt with before, though. They'd had crowds not get them from the beginning, douchebag assholes who saw some eyeliner and made up their minds about their sound before they'd even hit their first note.

It was still a little bit of a shock from such a big crowd, even after the assholes at Download last spring. The guys all went into the show expecting a fight, expecting to have to fucking win them over, make them love it even if they didn't fucking want to, and that was what happened. It felt fucking great, to come out the other side knowing that they'd won, but this wasn't the summer he expected.

"Try wearing a fucking skirt up there and see how it goes for you," Lindsey said, tipping her beer at him. She leaned back against her chair with a sigh. They were back at the MCR bus after the set. Frank had been surprised but pleased to see her standing sidestage for their set with Jamia. Apparently the Magic game hadn't ended too badly for anyone.

"I fucking want to, just to see their faces explode," Gerard said darkly.

"Hell, some of them freak out enough over a fucking boa." Frank drank more of his own beer, settled on the bus couch with Jamia under his arm.

Lindsey slouched down further in her chair, head tipped back. "It's part of what makes it great, though, you know? Like, I've got all the fucking power up there—it doesn't matter what the fuck the assholes shout at me, I'm the one playing the bass. They always lose."

Gerard pulled his chair a little closer to her, hands tight around his can of Red Bull. "That's the thing, though. I don't want those motherfuckers to control the show, but I wanna make sure our fans are safe, too. I don't want to do stuff that's gonna make it harder for them."

"I don't think that's how it works, though." Tugging on Frank's beer until he gave it up to her, Jamia took a pull and then continued. "I think when you flip them off, they all see that and feel safer, because you aren't intimidated."

"I hope so," Gerard said, half-smiling at Jamia. "I don't want my boa making shit worse."

"Our kids can fucking take care of themselves," Frank dismissed. "They're fucking tough as balls." Frank was still caught up on what Lindsey had said. "Dudes who don't like it when a girl's onstage or a tech or whatever are morons," he said expansively, taking his beer back from Jamia. "I've just never fucking understood it."

"It's a sausage fest, Frank. You have a pair of these and suddenly you're both incompetent and a distraction," Jamia said, grabbing her own tits for emphasis.

"Okay, but right. Like, that's stupid and shitty and just fucking dumb, because if there are chicks around, you might actually get laid, right?" Frank started warming up, the beer loosening his words. "So like, guys should want women around."

"That's not how most rock dudes think. You can either see me as one of the guys and capable, or you can want to fuck me and ignore what I can do. There's no gray area in between," Lindsey said, leaning forward in her chair. She flicked her eyes over at Gerard. "At least not usually."

Frank shook his head. "That's so fucking dumb."

Jamia patted his chest. "Not everyone is as enlightened as you."

Frank shook his head even harder. "I'm not fucking enlightened, I can just see when dudes aren't thinking things through. It's like the gay thing—why should they give a shit if two dudes are fucking? They should be happy, now there's less competition and some girl might actually want to fuck his ugly ass." Frank was pretty sure that he'd lost the thread of his argument somewhere along the way, but he was also right, dammit.

Jamia was laughing at him, though, so it couldn't be too bad. "You should do a lecture series for tours on how being a sexist asshole goes against their own self-interest."

"Yes," Frank declared, looking over at Gerard, surprised he didn't have his own vision of how to better educate the clueless. But Gerard seemed pretty preoccupied by Lindsey's face, staring over at her like there wasn't anyone else in the room.

He turned back to Jamia. "Beer?"

She nodded decisively. "Beer." He got up to get them two more.

 

June 12, 2003
Bloomfield

 

The next time the topic came up, it was Frank who mentioned it. And he wasn't even high, although after four beers he couldn't exactly call himself sober either.

"So listen," he said, leaning towards Jamia across the table. They were at their favorite bar on a Thursday night, the TVs tuned to seven different games with not a single person watching. The wood was rough against his fingertips, and he wondered for a second if he was going to give himself a splinter before he told himself to stop being a pussy. "About the whole you-sometimes-fuck-girls thing."

Jamia rolled her eyes and took another swig of beer before fixing him with a stare. "I swear to god if you start to say anything about a fucking threesome—"

"Hey!" Frank may not have entirely known how to approach this topic, but he wasn't a complete moron, Jesus. Besides, he was pretty sure he had just been insulted. "You're the only person I need in my bed, okay? Don't fucking assume I want to add anybody else."

When she tipped her beer at him in acknowledgement, he took a deep breath. "But uh. Just because I don't necessarily need that doesn't mean you can't." He shook his head a little and tried again. "I mean, I don't know if this was why you brought it up or whatever, but—"

"It wasn't," she interrupted. Frank's knee was bouncing up and down, and he tried to tamp it down, but he couldn't stop moving. "I really was just curious. About you, you know?"

"Why, though?" he asked. He reached out across the table and brushed his hand over her forearm, thumb moving back and forth on her skin.

She shrugged, the movement as self-assured as everything else she did. "Just seemed like the sort of thing you might have done, on a dare or whatever." She grinned suddenly, expression suddenly flirty and completely unexpected. "Don't worry, I wasn't worried about your roving eye."

"Good," he said, squeezing her arm a little, and she dragged her tall chair around the table a little, siding up to him.

"I don't wanna go out and randomly fuck around with girls," she said into his ear. "I mean, I know what it's like. I'm happy where I am. You never got there with a guy, though." Her tits were pressed up against his arm, and Frank moved his hand down until it was on her knee.

"Yeah?" he asked, still not entirely sure where this was going. He could smell her shampoo combined with her natural scent, a sharper smell than any of the girls he dated in high school or fucked around with in college. He'd know it anywhere.

She nodded, and he tried to pull his brain back around to what they were talking about. "I mean, I would understand if, like, you were curious and wanted to see—"

"I don't, J," he interrupted. "I don't want anyone else." You're it, he thought but didn't say, for once. From the look she gave him he was pretty sure she heard him loud and clear though.

"Yup, you never even watch porn," she said, her tone shifting again to something lighter, more familiar.

"Nope," he said, widening his eyes at her. "I wouldn't ruin myself like that." She snorted and pressed closer, and he wrapped his arm around her until she was tucked up against his chest. He thought about just letting the whole thing drop, but he couldn't quite do it. "I don't need to suck a random dick or whatever, okay? It's—that's not what it's about," he said, his voice pitched so low he almost wondered if even she heard him. When she nodded he squeezed her tight, a smirk stretching his mouth as a thought occurred to him. "But hey, thanks for the Get Out of Jail Free card," he said, laughing when she pulled away and punched him in the stomach.

"You gave me mine first, asshole," she retorted. He grabbed her hands to keep her from punching him again, still giggling as they moved, her hands trying to pinch his belly flab. "And I want to know when you spend yours," she continued, a smile finally breaking across her face.

He let go of her hands and lifted one up like he was taking an oath. "You'll be the first person I call," he said solemnly. He shrugged. "After MTV, of course."

She rolled her eyes. "Keep dreaming, big shot, you think you're the first dicksuck from a band they've never heard of? Yesterday's news," she said, laughing, her poker face as bad as ever.

He started tickling her in revenge, his fingers getting a healthy grope in now and then as she squirmed against him. He pulled away just enough to get his wallet out from his back pocket and threw down two twenties on the table before turning back to her. "My place?" he asked her, his hands back on her waist.

"Yeah," she said, face pressed up against his neck, and he kissed her hair.

"You know, you never did tell me about what you did," he said, dick twitching as his brain filled in images from porn.

She laughed against his neck. "You are so fucking predictable."

He grunted in mock outrage. "Fuck you, you offered."

Humming thoughtfully, she ran her hand up Frank's thigh, stopping just short of his boner. "Tell you when we get home?"

//

He bought himself the ring the next day. He kept it in his guitar case for the first month or two, not quite brave enough to wear it yet, but he finally broke it out for the first time in August, the metal heavy and cool spinning around his finger. It took him a couple of shows to get used to the feel of it on his hand when he played, but after a few weeks it felt good, not foreign, and by October it was like he'd always had it.

 

Projekt Revolution
July 29, 2007
Mountain View

 

The next afternoon was the first time Frank got a chance to go see MSI, and he wasn't going to miss out again.

He didn't expect to have company, but he spotted Gerard as soon as he got to the sidestage, his attention riveted on their set. Frank moved up next to him, bouncing up on his heels along with him to Get It Up.

Gerard looked focused in a way he hadn't seen in a long time, or at least not on something other than the band. Frank split his time between watching Lindsey and Jimmy moving around the stage, winding the kids up higher and higher, and Gerard, hands gripping his arms as he stared at Lindsey.

It was familiar in a way that made Frank instinctively uncomfortable. He felt out of place suddenly. Then Gerard knocked into his shoulder, lifting his chin up at the stage, and Frank turned back to watch Lindsey bend back, head almost touching the floor.

"She's still got it," he said without thinking.

Somehow Gerard actually heard him over the din. "Fucking incredible."

Frank looked at him again and thought about how weird it was to not see Gerard every night on the bus. It was so strange, being separate from him and the rest of the band. This was the first time they'd really hung out, just the two of them, since they arrived on the West Coast. Frank didn't like it.

"Hey," he said, nudging Gerard while Jimmy was yelling at the crowd between songs. "Why don't you come over to my bus after this set? We could chill before we go on tonight."

Before he had even finished making the offer, Lindsey walked close to them, giving them a wink and a wide, bright red smile before turning back to the center of the stage to kick off the next song. Frank was almost expecting it when Gerard said, "I would, but I think I'm hanging out with Lindsey. Maybe we could come by tomorrow, though?" He finally turned to face Frank, his expression hopeful.

Frank was already nodding. "Yeah, sure, that sounds good," he said, taking one step to the side.

Gerard shuffled over closer to him. "Thanks, Frankie. I just—it's good." Words seemed to actually fail him, for once.

It wasn't entirely clear to Frank what Gerard was thanking him for, but that was okay. "No big, Gee. I think I'm gonna go see if Ray wants to work on some stuff."

"I'm gonna go out on a limb and guess yes," Gerard replied, a smile crossing his face.

Frank snorted. "Yeah, probably. See you at call."

//

The energy of the crowd that night felt a little different than the first two nights had—still a little hostile, still like a battle they had to win rather than a party thrown for them. None of that mattered to any of them when they were up there, though. Frank had spent a solid hour and a half going over a couple of potential new parts with Ray, and he still felt like he was buzzing from it. But now he just got to let loose, got to break open on songs that he could let take him over, that could pull him along. Bob and Cortez and Dewees were anchoring them, locking it down so that he and Ray could cut through the top, put it all out there.

Then there was Gerard, who seemed to have taken the challenge to heart, inviting the audience to attempt to deflate him with the air of a man who knew it couldn't be done. Frank couldn't stop watching him, strutting across the stage, popping his hip out and presenting himself to the crowd.

It was the sort of invitation Frank couldn't resist, playing up to Gerard as the music filled him up and propelled him around the stage. Every time he moved closer it was like a charge was lit for both of them, the spark intensifying exponentially as the set went on.

The final catalyst was a frankly unoriginal catcall of "fag!" once again, and suddenly Frank was done. He was done giving them control, done holding back from anything. Slinging his guitar to the side, he moved up to Gerard and just grabbed his head, pulling him in for a kiss that was more of an assault that anything that had ever happened off stage. He made it big and showy, his heart pounding too hard to even really feel it as it was happening, just knowing that he had to do it.

They finally broke apart, and Gerard just exploded after that, his moments taking over the stage, his control over the audience absolute. Frank spun off on his own, getting down on his knees and playing like he couldn't stop, like there was someone else pushing him on.

It felt like that after the show too, like his body was completely overtaken, his need controlling him. The private bus was a godsend that night, worth every fucking penny when he pressed Jamia up against the wall. He was frantic, wanted to do everything at once, feel every single sensation he possibly could, and she fed it right back to him, matched him like she always did, never out of step.

In the end, he fucked her up against the wall, holding one leg up around his hip as she stood on her tip toes on the other leg. He couldn't support her like this for too long, his control fraying quickly, but then he couldn't last anyway; his hips pumped fast as he came inside her, face pressed against her neck as he gasped through it.

He didn't let himself bask in it, pulling out and then falling to his knees. He slung her leg up over his shoulder and got his mouth on her clit, sucking hard and then licking back over her pussy, eating his come out of her. She was shaking around him, and he got his hands up against her hips, pushing her back against the wall and holding her steady as he went to town. His head was bent way back and his knees were shoved up hard against the wall and her hands were pulling tight in his hair, and he didn't give a shit, not at all. He just wanted to stay there, surrounded by her, until his mind went completely quiet.

Frank lost himself in it, making her come once and then still going, still working, wanting to give her more. He stayed there until she pulled him away, her gasps loud in his ears.

He blinked up at her, his brain finally coming back online. She smiled down at him, color high in her cheeks. After a moment he grinned back, resting his head against her sweaty thigh. Fuck.

 

October 19, 2003
Chicago

 

The first time Frank ever fooled around with Gerard, he was so fucked up he could barely see straight.

He didn't need to see in order to get his hands down Gerard's pants, jerking the zipper down and fisting Gerard's cock, fingers clumsy. When he tried to apologize, Gerard stuck his tongue down his throat, and Frank forgot about anything other than the feel of Gerard's dick in his hand, hot and hard, and the pressure of Gerard's hand against his crotch.

He pushed up against Gerard, trying to get more friction, needing something more, but when Gerard came all over his hand he got distracted, passing out before he could even take his hand off Gerard's dick.

When he woke up he felt like something had crawled down his throat and died in his belly, and after a quick trip to the bathroom to expel everything in his digestive track, he called Jamia. He was pretty sure the nausea in his belly was no longer from the combination of beer and pills he'd taken the night before. He slid down the bathroom door, and waited for her to pick up.

His heart began to beat faster when he heard her familiar, "Hey you," and he swallowed down the bile and prayed that he hadn't just fucked up everything in his life.

"Hey, baby," he said, head resting against his knee, phone pressed up against his ear. "I gotta tell you something."

"Okay," she said, her voice curious but not particularly worried.

"I fucked Gerard," he blurted out. "Well, I mean, we didn't fuck, it was just a shitty fucking handjob, but I jerked him off. And he kissed me. And I kissed him back," he said helplessly, the words pouring from his mouth.

There was silence from the other end of the phone. "Are you okay?" wasn't the question Frank was expecting, but it was what he got.

"Yeah, I mean, I'm fine, J, what the hell—"

"Because you sound like you're freaking out," she continued, her voice steady.

"Yeah, that's 'cause I am, okay," he said, frustrated and scared and well on his way to being angry.

"Why? Is it the gay thing, or that it was Gerard?"

He couldn't take her calmness any longer. "Jesus Christ, I'm sorry, okay? We were fucked up, he was talking about the possibility of aliens being real one minute and had his hand on my dick the next, and I just. I needed to tell you," he said miserably.

The silence that greeted him this time felt different, and he waited for her to start yelling. When she finally did speak, her tone was icy but her words made no sense. "Frank, we talked about this. I said I would be okay with you fooling around with a guy because I meant it, not because I was testing you or some bullshit. That's not how I work."

"Yeah, I know," he said, trying to process this through the pounding of his head.

"And fuck you for thinking that I would pull that sort of shit. Are you breaking up with me?"

"Fucking hell, no," Frank practically yelled, his stomach in knots.

"Well, I'm not breaking up with you, so shut the hell up," Jamia snapped back, her voice finally cracking.

Frank did, for a moment, listening to his own breath still coming fast, body not yet convinced that the danger was over. But a few seconds later, he couldn't help himself. "It won't happen again."

"Frank." Her voice was tired, a little strained.

He hurried to convince her. "No, I promise, it was just a fucking mistake—"

"Oh my god, will you just listen to me." He snapped his mouth shut, thunking his head against the door in an attempt to make himself shut up. "This wasn't someone random, Frank. That's not how you work." He nodded silently in agreement. She sighed over the phone. "And that's—that's okay, too. I'd rather that, than you blowing someone I've never even met after a show."

"I wouldn't—" he started before he made himself shut up again.

"I know," she said softly, starting to sound like herself again. "I know that." He dug his fingernails into his arms. "So don't promise me it won't happen again. Just be less of a dumbass the next time, if it does."

"I love you," he said, helplessly.

"I know," she said again. "I'm not—just be careful, Frank. Fucking talk to Gerard, if you're going to do this. It's your band."

"I know," he said back, dragging his hand over his face. "I know, I know, it was so fucking dumb, I could have fucked up everything. Not just you."

"But you didn't," she said, her voice breaking him out of the self-loathing cycle he was about to get on. "So don't fuck it up with Gerard, either. Fucking talk to him."

"I will," he promised, closing his eyes.

There was a silence over the line, and for once he didn't have to bite back something. He didn't know what to say. Finally, she spoke. "So I need details."

He laughed, disbelieving. "What?"

"I told you mine. So what was it like?"

He shook his head. "Messy."

After he had finished telling her about the one and a half handjobs from the night before, he clicked his phone shut and looked up at the ceiling. He was one fucking lucky bastard.

He tried to open the door as quietly as he could, but Gerard's eyes blinked open at him, glowing in the dim light.

"Everything cool?" Gerard asked, his voice a little shaky.

Frank nodded. "Yup. How's your head?"

Gerard's groan told him everything he needed to know. Frank figured their conversation could wait until Gerard didn't look so green.

 

Projekt Revolution
July 31, 2007
San Diego

 

It always felt strange to do media without Mikey. Especially when it was an interview with the "whole band", at least in theory.

Frank felt like he was missing a limb. Mikey was someone he needed here to help him get through the bullshit, someone who could make him laugh, make it all worth it. At least Toro was at the interview picking up the slack, playing off of Frank's attempts to inject something new, something interesting into answers to the same five fucking questions they'd been answering for the last year.

It was times like these that he resented Bob's well-earned and never-challenged reputation for being a stone impossible to get water from—or a good quote. It left them all with more slack to pick up.

Gerard always got hit with the worst of the bullshit questions, of course, as the frontman and the dude with the message. And usually that was good for Frank, a way to hook into it, disrupt the bullshit and redirect questions away from the useless posturing and towards what actually mattered. But Gerard was off in his own world too, not quite here with him, and it made Mikey's absence loom larger still. Because while Gee could sometimes go off in his head without the rest of his band, he never left his brother behind.

The second the final interview was done, Gerard booked it out of there. Frank squinted in the bright California sunshine, and considered following Gerard before he decided to see how Mama's day was going instead.

When he got back to the bus, he found Jamia and Lindsey sitting in camping chairs, Mama at their feet. Lindsey was still in her stage gear, hair just barely still in her pigtails.

"Good afternoon?" he asked her, grabbing a beer from the open cooler between them.

She nodded. "Can't complain. You?"

"Fucking bullshit interview with some shitty interviewers." Frank shrugged, taking a long swallow of the beer. "Been through worse."

"Yeah, Gerard said you guys have a bunch scheduled through the tour," Lindsey said, blinking up at him, her hand shading her eyes from the sun.

Frank pushed Mama out of the way so that he could sit between Jamia's feet, resting his head against her knee. He felt her hand rest on his hair. "What the label wants, you know?" He sighed and let the tension go, trying to get back into himself. "So what were you ladies talking about, anyway?"

Lindsey grinned at Jamia before saying, "Jamia was telling me about the Ghost of You shoot."

"Oh god," Frank groaned. He settled back against Jamia's legs. "Did she tell you how I almost died?"

The company helped. The beer did too.

 

December 14, 2003
New York City

 

Playing New York always felt different, interesting, intense in a way that nowhere else did. Jersey shows were awesome, of course, and fuck anyone who tried to say that Jersey couldn't rock just as hard as New York, but Frank had to admit that he still got hot in his belly when he thought about the fact that his band was going to fill a venue in fucking Manhattan.

Well, his band and MSI. Who were just the kind of weirdos that he liked, aggressive with the crowd and crazy as anything.

J came in for this show, of course, chilling with them backstage while they all attempted to deal with their nerves in their own special ways. Frank was arguing with Otter about the set up, again, when he looked around and realized that he had no idea where the fuck she had gone.

"Hold on a second," he interrupted Otter mid-sentence, and he went out into the hall to see if he could find her.

He finally saw her near the stage leaning up against road boxes, talking with—Lyn-Z? It was something weird like that. 'Hey," he called out, sliding next to Jamia to join them.

"Hey yourself," Jamia said. "Turns out Lyn-Z and I have a friend in common." Frank gave himself a mental high five for knowing her name.

"Yeah, I went to school with Rachel," Lyn-Z said, smiling down at Frank. She held out her hand for Frank to shake. "You must be Frank."

"Yup," he agreed, Jamia's fist digging into his ribs his first hint that he should be picking up on something he was clearly missing. He smiled up at Lyn-Z. "So, should be a good crowd tonight, huh?"

Good crowd didn't come close to covering it. The kids were out of control, the pit bouncing so much the security guards had to press back on the barriers just to make sure they held up. Gerard fed off that, inciting them all hotter and hotter, and by the time they all stumbled off stage Frank was drenched in sweat and ready to fucking party.

He found Jamia first, and then the cold beer, gulping down the first one fast and the second one quick after it. It took a little bit of the edge off, but he still wanted to bounce up onto his toes, wanted to slam up against people or get into a fistfight or fuck.

There might be a bathroom or a closet that would work for that last idea—Hell, even just a dark corner would work for him right now. He had Jamia close up to him, her back to his front, his free arm tight around her hips, her ass right up against his hard dick. He nosed up her hairline, about to ask her if she wanted to find someplace more private, when the kids out front started to roar.

"Come on," she said, tugging away from him a little and grabbing his hand to pull him towards the stage.

He hadn't known exactly what to expect from the show, but he definitely hadn't been prepared for it. Jimmy was running around like a crazed lunatic, yelling at the crowd, and Steve seemed to barely notice, lost in his own world. And then there was the rhythm section, Kitty beating the shit out of her kit, and Lyn-Z.

Lyn-Z was something else.

She moved in a way he recognized, with a manic energy that felt so familiar, and then she bent backwards until the back of her head almost touched her heels, hands still locking down the bassline.

Fucking hell.

The audience roared for her, and she spit it back at them, flipping them the bird and then laughing, kicking out at the wedge monitors to drive the point home. He couldn't stop looking at her.

When they paused between songs, he glanced down at Jamia, saw her eyes locked on Lyn-Z's form as she bent down, picked up her bottle of water. Suddenly he remembered something. "Hey, what the fuck were you trying to tell me earlier?"

Jamia tore her eyes away from the stage and looked up at him. "Oh, just that I'm pretty fucking sure that she's the Lindsey who Rachel hooked up with or dated or whatever the fuck a couple of years ago."

Frank blinked. "Rachel's gay?"

Jamia rolled her eyes and punched him in the gut. "You are so fucking oblivious."

"No, I just—really?" he couldn't help asking. "I thought she was with Carl."

"She was, after Lindsey broke her heart," Jamia said confidently. "Did you really miss all of that?"

"Well, in my defense, I don't think I've ever actually hung out with Rachel sober," Frank said, his eyes caught again by Lyn-Z moving on stage.

Jamia moved closer to him again. "And that's different from the rest of my friends how?"

That was sadly valid. "Point," he conceded, resolving to at least try to pay more attention in the future. He looked over at Jamia again, at the way she was watching Lyn-Z, gaze tracking her as she stalked to the front of the stage and—holy shit—threw down her bass before launching herself into the crowd.

"Damn," he murmured, following her progress through the mass of people, the security up front already trying to get her back up there. "She fucking kicks ass."

"No shit," Jamia said back, and when he looked at her again, really looked this time, a lightbulb went off.

"Oh my god, she's totally your type!" he crowed, and when she didn't say anything and just dug her elbow into his ribs, he knew he was right. "Oh, damn. My girlfriend has awesome taste in pussy, everyone."

"Fuck you, of course I do," Jamia said distractedly, focus still on Lyn-Z being pushed back up onto the stage by the security guys, her little skirt barely covering her boy shorts.

Frank grinned. This was fucking awesome.

//

The van ride back to Jersey took for-fucking-ever, the tunnel traffic backed up all the way to 50th Street, even at 1 a.m. Frank's leg wouldn't stop bouncing up and down, his arm slung over Jamia's shoulder. When they finally pulled up to Jamia's place, he couldn't get out of the van fast enough, almost hitting his head on the top of the door frame in his haste.

"Hey man, be careful!" Ray called out, and Frank waved him off as Jamia carefully stepped out of the van after him.

Once inside, Frank pressed her up against the wall right next to her door, his hands already reaching down to tug up her skirt as he kissed her. She laughed at him at first, but then pushed back against him, her body hot and right there up against his.

"So I guess you don't mind, huh," she said, kissing him again as she pulled him towards her bedroom.

"Mind what?" he asked, leaning back just long enough to get her shirt off, palming both of her tits through her bra as soon as the shirt was on the floor.

She sucked in a breath. "Me watching other girls."

Frank stopped moving, his hands still on her tits as he stared at her. "Why would I mind, that's fucking hot."

Shrugging, she shifted out of his grasp and reached down for the zipper on her skirt, tugging it down and off. Frank followed suit, watching as she revealed more skin, her breasts falling free of her bra, heavy and full. He whipped his shirt off over his head, toeing off his shoes as he worked to get his jeans down his thighs and then finally off before nudging her onto the bed with his hands.

He tucked his face up against her neck, hand roaming over her tits to her belly, down to her thighs, and back up again. His dick was hard and leaking up against her hip. "Seriously, why would I mind if you were looking at a hot girl? Especially someone who moved like that." She shifted against her, spreading her legs a little, and he kissed her jaw as he ran his fingers over the crease of her thigh, teasing. "You'd be fucking hot together."

"Oh, fuck," she rasped, and he pressed closer, dragging his hand back up to tug on her nipple. He let himself really imagine it, Lyn-Z wrapped around Jamia, kissing her hard, their tits pressed up against each other, fingering each other's pussies. Or maybe—

"Maybe she would sit on your face," he said, pulse racing when she gasped, arching into his grasp. He moved up to kiss her then, made it wet and sloppy, his tongue running over her lips. He stroked his hand down her belly, stopping just north of her bush. "You want that? You want to eat her out, feel her move against you?"

"Fuck, Frank, touch me," she demanded, grabbing his hand and pulling it down between her thighs where, Jesus, she was hot and ready. He smiled against her shoulder but didn't tease any longer, circling her clit firmly, letting her hand direct exactly where.

"I bet her tits are fucking gorgeous, you know?" he continued, feeling her jump against him. He leaned down and sucked on her nipple, flicking it with his tongue before pulling away again. Jamia was biting her lip, her head thrown back and eyes shut tight, and he forgot what he was going to say, couldn't stop looking at her. "Fuck, J, yeah."

Her hips were bucking up against his hand, and she was so slick, so wet and open. He tried to get back on track, figure out what to say next, but she arched against him and started to shudder, and he just focused on keeping his fingers steady on her clit.

She finally collapsed back against the sheets, panting loudly. He groaned and moved down her body, shoving her legs further apart and finally getting his mouth on her pussy, fuck. She tasted so good, and she was hot and wet against his face, her clit swollen when he sucked on it gently and pressed two fingers inside.

She gripped his hair hard, holding him right there as her thighs trembled against his face, chasing another orgasm. He felt more than heard it when she broke, her moans filling his whole body as she came again against his tongue and around his fingers. Panting, he pulled away and then pushed himself up over her, getting her legs up around his waist and sliding inside, Jesus, she was so fucking tight around him he was gonna come in no time.

He managed to wait for a second, holding himself still, but then she bent up and bit his neck, her nails digging into his back, and he started thrusting inside her, fast and out of control and right on the edge.

"Fuck, J, I'm gonna—" He didn't even make it to the end of his thought, pumping inside her and coming his brains out before collapsing on top of her, panting.

She let him lie there for a moment, sweat cooling between them, before pushing at him. "Frank," she said, shifting underneath him, and he slipped out of her and rolled to one side, still trying to catch his breath.

"I just," he got out finally, the thought dying before it really started. He tilted his head over to look at her.

Jamia was watching him back, her hand running up and down over her own stomach. "Yes?"

He shook his head, gripping her thigh with his hand and squeezing. "So I guess you'll be at our show next week then, huh?"

She grinned.

 

Projekt Revolution
August 1, 2007
Phoenix

 

It was a media day again, which sucked, but on the plus side this media outlet really only wanted to talk to Gerard and dismissed the rest of them after about fifteen minutes.

Frank thought about heading back to the band bus with the others, maybe playing some video games, but in the end Frank decided that being outside was more his speed right now, and he made his way over to the Revolution Stage to check out MSI by himself.

By the time he got there, they were already halfway through the set. Frank carefully picked his way around the techs, sitting down just off stage left once he was sure he wasn't directly in the middle of things. He smiled and gave a little wave to Lindsey, and then he lost himself in the music and their performance for the rest of the set, his toes tapping along.

Frank was still on the ground when she came over, and he took her hand when she offered it, letting her pull him back up.

"Great set," he said sincerely, and she grinned back at him.

"Thanks! We gave those motherfuckers what they came here for," she said.

He raised his eyebrows and nodded. "Of that I have no doubt." He shoved his hands in his pockets and stepped out of her way as she dealt with her tech for a second.

This was nothing out of the ordinary, not really. Just a dude coming to see his friend's band play. It was something he'd done a million times before, was one of the best perks about playing a big tour with other bands he actually wanted to see.

But his body hadn't seemed to get the memo. He felt awkward and out of place, a sensation he hadn't felt near a stage in years, almost like an intruder or an impostor. It occurred to him that he didn't actually know what he was doing here. She was really Jamia's friend, mostly, and Gerard's girlfriend or summer fling or however they defined it. Frank wasn't entirely sure where he fit in.

From the way Lindsey smiled at him and tugged his arm, pulling him off towards the back of the stage, she didn't have the same reservations. "So how did the press go?"

Frank groaned, he couldn't help it. "Oh god. I mean, it was fine, same fucking questions all over again, but Gerard's the one who can actually complain."

She reached into her bag and pulled out a pack of smokes, offering him one. He got his own out of his pocket instead; he fucking hated menthols and only smoked them if he didn't had any other option. Lindsey shrugged and lit up, passing him her lighter. "Yeah, he said it was gonna be a long solo interview. Poor baby," she said lightly, blowing out a long, thin stream of smoke.

Frank watched her smoke, eyes caught on her red mouth as she took another drag. He couldn't stop imagining her lips on Gerard's neck.

Shaking himself a little, he tried to focus again. "Yeah, he always gets the short straw on that. Everyone wants to hear about his vision."

She cocked her head at him. "Does that bother you?"

Frank stopped, actually thinking about it for a moment. "Not like in a big way. I just think it might be more interesting for someone to actually ask the rest of us more questions. Talk with Ray about how he writes, or Bob about how he even fucking learned to play the drums while teching for other bands, or Mikey about fucking anything." He stuck his cigarette in his mouth, sucking in hard. "I mean, when he's actually around again," he added finally, lungs tight from such a hard pull.

Lindsey looked like she sympathized, which Frank waited to be irritated by—she didn't know Mikey, had no fucking clue what this was like—but when she hugged him, he didn't want to shrug it off, or move. He just let her hug him. When she pulled backed she left her free hand on his shoulder, her other hand still holding her cigarette. He looked up at her for a second and then shrugged, taking another drag.

Before she could say anything in response, Frank heard someone coming up to them. He moved away from Lindsey instinctively, but when he glanced over, it was Gerard.

His face looked like the fucking sun just came out. "Hey guys!" He leaned into Lindsey and gave her a quick kiss, his cheeks pinking up just from that. "What's going on? You wanna grab dinner? Frank, where's Jamia at, she should join us."

Frank held up his hands. "Fucking calm down and take a breath, Gee."

Gerard reached out and grabbed Frank's smoke, taking the last drag off it before chucking it to the side. "I'm calm! Just glad to be out of that fucking room, that's all." He smiled at Lindsey again, and Frank felt whatever connection that had been there between him and Lindsey fade away in the face of Gerard's enthusiasm.

He wasn't sure he minded.

Frank pulled his phone out. "Let me find out where Jamia is, and we can grab some veggie burgers."

"The black bean ones?" Lindsey asked, her hand tangled with Gerard's already.

Hitting the first speed dial, Frank nodded. "They're the best ones on tour, every time."

Veggie burgers and a show and maybe a movie or some shit later that night.

Typical day on tour.

 

March 19-20, 2004
Belleville

 

Gerard was only a little drunk when it happened again, rather than two minutes away from throwing up on Frank's shoes, which helped.

It was just as unexpected, though, the transition from a discussion of which venues smell the worst to Gerard's hot and sweaty hand fumbling on Frank's dick nonexistent. Or at least that's what Frank told himself when he hauled Gerard closer and kissed him, eyes sliding shut as he gripped Gerard's slimy hair hard.

The show that night in Boston had been fucking off the chain, the kids thrashing around from the very start, an uncontrollable mass of bodies, moving as a single many-headed beast that wanted to chew them up and spit them out, in the best way possible. They played a mix of songs from Bullets and a couple of the new ones, too, and the response to the stuff off Three Cheers made Frank's stomach jump, his entire body vibrating. The new album hadn't even dropped yet, and it already felt so fucking good to play those songs and watch the crowd get into it immediately.

Frank had fed them, throwing himself out there, letting them hold him up and toss him around, the adrenaline running fast and hot through his veins. When he got back to the stage, he could see that the guys were feeling it too, Ray pogoing nonstop, Mikey straddling the groove, and Otter banging the shit out of his kit.

Gerard was on another level, though, his face wild as he screamed out at the crowd before whirling away upstage, stumbling for a moment before catching himself and turning the motion into his walk. Frank slung his guitar back over his shoulder and played up to him, pressing against his shoulder. The instant pushback grounded him again, calmed the excess of nerves just enough for him spin off to his right, turning hard and fast like a top.

They didn't stick around for the next act, just broke down their gear and loaded up the van, back on the Mass Pike and on their way back to Jersey by 11 p.m. Ray drew the short straw that night and was up front driving, while the rest of them worked most of their way through a case of Bud Light in the back. By the time they made it to Gerard's parents' house, Frank was so loose and half-gone that he just wanted out of the van now, fuck his own bed.

"Let's just crash here, okay Mikeyway?" he slurred, leaning forward and slinging his arm over the seat in front of him. He thumped his hand down for emphasis. "I'm gonna pass the fuck out."

Mikey nodded, pushing his glasses up his nose and slithering his way over Otter's lap to get out. Gerard was slumped up against the window, not seeming to realize where they were until Frank poked him in the side, hard. "Ow," he said absently, sighing and finally picking his head up. "Oh. We're here!"

Frank snorted and hooked his arm around Gerard's neck. "That's right, Gee. Now fucking move so Toro and Otter can go home, okay?"

Gerard practically had to be dragged out of the van by Frank, but by the time he was outside he looked a little more with it, and after one cigarette he had that look in his eyes that said sleep wasn't coming anytime soon. The cold air outside had shocked Frank half-awake too, the hit of nicotine finishing the job, and another surge of post-show adrenaline filled his body as he followed the Ways inside.

Mikey tromped upstairs as soon as they made it through the door, waving at them without looking back as he headed to bed. Frank turned to Gerard, who was already looking at him hopefully.

"I think I still have some vodka," he said.

Frank rubbed his right eye, the makeup starting to make his eyes burn a little. "Works for me."

He followed Gerard down to the basement, still trying and failing to process what that show had felt like. He thought that maybe a couple of swallows of liquor would help the words come, but if anything it chased the thoughts away, leaving him only with the fear and excitement and anticipation for tonight's show.

Luckily Gerard never seemed to need Frank's words to know what he was thinking. "Big show tonight," he said, taking one more swig out of the bottle and then handing it back to Frank.

Frank nodded, knocking back a gulp and then putting the almost empty bottle on the floor. "Wonder if the green room there will smell as bad as the bathrooms."

Shaking his head, Gerard said, "No fucking way, not possible. It'll be better than the Highland, anyway."

Frank flicked his forehead. "Not a fucking chance, Starland smells like an entire football team got sick in there and no one cleaned it for three weeks." His stomach turned over as he remembered that, oh fuck, they're playing Starland, like for real, like a real band. He caught Gerard moving towards him, like he was gonna tug him into a hug or tell him to shut up and sleep, but then Gerard's hand landed in his lap.

It might have been an accident, except that when Frank looked at Gerard, he just smiled a little. "Is this okay?" Gerard asked. Frank thought of Jamia, of the conversations they'd had after the last time Gerard's hand had been on his dick, and he nodded. Gerard grinned wide and deliberately squeezed Frank's half-hard cock. "Relax, Frankie," he said, as if Frank could do that while his hand was on his junk.

"Shut up, Gee," he said, falling against Gerard's chest and twisting his head up to kiss him.

Gerard tasted like vodka and smoke and sweat, his lips sloppy and messy against Frank's. It was intensely familiar and totally bizarre all at once, the sort of thing that could only happen at 4 a.m. after a long ass drive, when sleep still felt miles away. Frank dug his fist into Gerard's shirt, pulling him closer as he slid his tongue in alongside Gerard's, his dick jumping and filling out against Gerard's hand.

Making a small noise in the back of his throat, Gerard broke away from Frank for a second, looking like he might say something. Fuck that, Frank thought, and he reached down and palmed Gerard's dick, hard and obvious even in his baggy jeans.

Gerard gasped, and Frank took that as an invitation, getting his jeans unbuttoned and unzipped fast and shoving his hand inside Gerard's briefs.

Fuck, his dick was so big. Frank's memory of the last time they did this wasn't that clear, and this was so much more immediate, so much more intentional. He gave it a slow stroke, the hot skin soft in his hand, and Gerard jerked against him, pulling him back into a kiss as Frank jacked him off.

Gerard made little whimpering noises into his mouth, pushing up into his hand with every stroke as he held Frank's face firm in both hands. There wasn't any question about what was happening, or why—Frank felt totally clear-headed, even after the vodka and beer.

He wanted more, though, wanted to feel even closer, wanted it to be unmistakable in the telling of it. Fuck, he wanted a good story, wanted to be able to tell Jamia how good he was, especially after the last time. So he pulled away from Gerard's mouth, rolling his eyes a little at Gerard's wordless protest.

"Relax, dude, okay?" Frank shuffled down the bed before Gerard could respond, tugging his briefs and jeans down further as he moved between Gerard's legs.

The room was dim, just the desk lamp glowing in the corner, but there was enough light to see how fucking flushed Gerard was, how red his skin was. Frank gave him one more stroke, rubbing his thumb over the pre-come on the head, and he put his other hand against Gerard's hip to hold him down before leaning over to taste him.

That was a good call, given how hard Gerard bucked up at the first touch. "Try not to choke me, Jesus," Frank complained, sitting up a little to glare at Gerard.

"Sorry!" Gerard gasped, his hands running over Frank's shoulder, his entire body already hunched up. "Just. Wasn't expecting that."

Frank grinned up at him. "What, you thought I was just down here for the view?"

"I hadn't really—" Gerard cut off with a gasp when Frank licked up the head before taking him down a little, sucking hard.

It wasn't like anything he'd ever felt, the thick length sliding in and out of his mouth, how hot it was, how fucking dirty. He'd never really thought of blow jobs like that before, but he was curled up in a ball between Gerard's legs, his mouth on his dick, and yeah, that was—there was something real primal about it.

He liked it though, liked it the way he liked eating Jamia out, the way he felt right there like nothing else did, not even actual fucking. He was fucking making this happen, his lips straining to hold all of Gerard, taking Gerard as far back as he could, which wasn't all that far, but that was Gerard's fault for having a fucking python in his pants.

Pulling off for a second, he looked up at Gerard, hand still stroking him. "Jesus, your dick is big."

Gerard nodded frantically. "I know, I know, just—can you, a little more?"

Frank was a little insulted. "Oh, I'm not done, your dick's not gonna defeat me." And he leaned back in and started to really work it now, one hand stroking the shaft and the other hand holding Gerard's balls tight as he sucked on the head. Gerard was making a ton of noise above him, choked off moans and little exclamations that sounded ripped out of him, his legs twitching around Frank's body. Frank's jaw was starting to hurt and he couldn't swallow the spit and pre-come flooding his mouth and it was getting messy now, but he doubled down, determined to ride this to the end.

"Oh god, I just— Oh fucking Frank, Jesus, yes," Gerard babbled, his hips snapping up, hands clenched hard on Frank's shirt. "Oh Jesus, Frank, I'm gonna—"

Frank pulled off, his hand moving fast and wet over Gerard's cock as Gerard came on his t-shirt, come splattering everywhere. Gerard's come face was fucking epic, his mouth and eyes and cheeks contorting into one crazy expression after another. Frank sat back on his heels and watched him as he twitched and shuddered and generally made a mess of himself.

His self-congratulations on being a blow job king were cut short when Gerard suddenly let out a huge breath and somehow sat up, twisted Frank onto his back and got Frank's pants down in what felt like a second. A moment later Gerard had taken Frank all the way down and he forgot how to breathe.

"Jesus fuck, Gerard," he barked out, and Gerard hummed in response and just kept working him with his mouth, all the way up and all the way down. And while Frank couldn't exactly compete with Gerard size-wise, it was still fucking impressive to watch him just take it all, right off the bat, like it was his job.

Maybe this should be his job, because Jesus Christ, this was fucking insane. Frank was already close, could barely even enjoy this epic fucking blow job because his dick needed to come so bad, and he started tapping on Gerard's shoulder.

"Dude, you gotta, I'm gonna come," he made out, but Gerard either didn't hear him or didn't give a shit, because ten second later Frank was shooting down his throat, Gerard moving with him as he thrust up into his mouth.

Gerard finally pulled off, coughing a little as he flopped up next to Frank, breathing hard. Frank was right there with him, panting up at the ceiling like it had the answers of how Gerard became a blow job master. "Dude."

"God, I haven't done that in so long," Gerard said. Frank glanced over at him, but Gerard looked perfectly sincere. "Guess it's like riding a bicycle."

From anyone else that would ego talking, but it was strangely innocent coming from Gerard, like he was actually inquiring whether his skills were still adequate. "Yeah, I think you're good," Frank said slowly.

Gerard nodded, satisfied. "Awesome." He leaned in and kissed Frank quickly before leaning down and pulling up the rumpled sheet and blanket over them. They laid there, Frank almost asleep when Gerard spoke again. "Jamia coming to the show tonight?" Gerard asked sleepily.

Frank hummed happily, rolling over so that he was on his side. "Of course." He paused for a moment before asking, "You got anyone coming?"

Gerard shrugged. "Mom and Dad, I think maybe Dewees. We'll see."

Frank didn't press him.

//

Frank woke up just after noon, and after a quick self inventory check determined that he was mildly hungover but nothing that a few aspirin, some cigarettes and a beer or two wouldn't chase away. He crawled over Gerard to get out of the bed, stumbling to the bathroom to take a piss and drink water from the tap.

Finding his jeans was an adventure given the state of Gerard's floor and how little light came in through the narrow basement windows, but he finally located them, pulling them on. He got out his cellphone and dialed, his stomach a weird mixture of pride and nerves. It wasn't that he didn't believe her, not exactly. Even so, he wasn't sure how this conversation was going to go.

Jamia picked up after two rings. "How was the gig last night?"

He closed his eyes, remembering. "Fucking awesome. It was—I'm really glad you'll get to see us tonight," he finished simply, not bothering to keep his voice down. Gerard could sleep through a nuclear holocaust.

"Me too," she said warmly.

"Yeah," he agreed. He dragged his hand over his face. "Listen, any chance you could come pick me up from Gerard's? I sort of crashed here last night, we got in so late."

"Sure." There was a pause. "Why'd you crash there?"

And see, that was why he loved her so much, she could fucking read him like a book. He grinned as he kicked around the dirty clothes on the floor, making larger piles of filth and then flattening them back down.

He shrugged, holding the phone between his head and shoulder while shoving his hands in his pockets. "Just didn't feel like waiting the extra fifteen minutes to get to my place. Turned out to be worth it."

"Oh really."

He giggled and pulled his hands free, grabbing his phone and spinning away from the bed. "Yeah. Turns out I'm a natural at cocksucking."

"Wish I could say I was surprised, but." She was laughing at him already.

Frank didn't mind. "I know, I know. But man, Gerard. Gerard is in another league. Like, the majors, no question." He stopped, worried suddenly that he'd gone too far, that it was one thing to tell your girlfriend about getting sucked off by a guy and another thing to fucking boast about how good it had been.

Luckily Jamia had no false modesty herself. "I'll have to compare techniques with him when I pick you up. I can be there in half an hour."

"Okay cool. See you then." Flipping the phone shut, he looked over at where Gerard was still buried under all the covers in a lump. He walked over and climbed on the bed, shaking him. "Wake up, dude, Jamia'll be here soon."

After a moment, Gerard pulled down the covers just enough for Frank to see his crazy bed head. "How soon?"

"Soon enough, get your ass up," Frank said, tugging down the covers.

By the time Gerard was actually out of bed and wearing pants and a t-shirt, Jamia was at the basement door. Frank let her in, kissing her hello and grabbing her ass. He was already nervous about tonight, the adrenaline making him even more tactile than normal.

She pushed him away a bit and looked at Gerard. "Heard you guys had a good night."

Gerard flushed a little, sneaking a look at Frank before looking back at her. "Yeah, uh—it was great."

Jamia smiled at him, walking closer and nudging him in the shoulder. "So we should compare notes sometime."

Gerard glanced at Frank again, finally seeing something in his face that relaxed him a little. "Okay, sure. I mean, any time you want."

Frank plopped down in Gerard's desk chair. This was gonna be good.

 

Projekt Revolution
August 3, 2007
Dallas

 

Frank was on the band bus, shooting the shit with Toro, when Gerard came stumbling in. His bandana was half undone, the row of hickeys lining his neck dark and obvious.

Ray cleared his throat and gestured at his own collar, smiling when Gerard got the hint and started to re-tie his method of concealment. He glanced over at Frank, grinning wider.

At first Ray had been worried about Gerard and Lindsey, wary of yet another disaster in the form of an ill-advised love affair rocking Gerard and, in turn, the band. But it was hard to feel cynical in the face of the happiness pouring out of him, and Ray was too optimistic at the worst of times.

Beside, as Ray had told him a couple of days ago, Krista liked Lindsey, and that said a lot. And when he'd learned that she and Jamia were already friends after a week, that had been that.

And Frank couldn't really argue with Ray's conclusion, was the thing. It was a bit damning with faint praise to say that Lindsey was far and away the best girlfriend he'd ever seen Gerard with, but she was. She fit with him, with them, and even better, it never felt like she was trying to impress them, trying to be worthy of a geek who happened to be a rock star and his equally lame band mates, because she was exactly the same. She wasn't hitching a ride on anyone's star.

Gerard finished tying his bandana, looking at them for approval and beaming when Frank nodded at him. "Much better, Gee."

"Thanks," he said, running his hand through his hair. "Linds and I just watched The Bled's set."

"Oh, is that what you were doing," Ray said, grinning. Ray still acted shocked that anyone ever had sex, no matter who they were.

"Well." Gerard blushed, his eyes bright, and Frank stood up abruptly.

"I'm gonna go find Jamia. She's working on some Skeleton Crew stuff and I should help her out." He clapped his hand on Ray's shoulder and punched Gerard in the arm as he passed by him, managing a half-smile.

He didn't find Jamia, in the end. He wandered around the grounds, cutting behind the stages, smoking cigarette after cigarette and trying not to think. He needed to be playing a show, right the fuck now. Something to turn his brain off, connect him with the crowd and his band and the music again.

During the show that night he finally lost himself again, letting it take him over, giving up and giving in and finally feeling like himself again. His tank top was drenched with sweat after three songs, his jeans heavy and too tight and perfect, molding to his legs as he thrashed around. The air was sticky, pressing all around Frank, his wristbands the only things keeping his hands from becoming too slick to play.

That was a lie; nothing could have kept him from playing, from throwing himself into it, collapsing onto his knees, heat be damned. He could see that Gerard felt it too, his movements electric and even campier than usual, hip popped out as he raised his arms to the crowd, grinning at them and daring them to yell names at him.

They did, the slurs cutting through the guitars and ringing out even louder during the breaks between songs. Gerard just smiled more, expression sharp as he felt up his legs, his face, his crotch. He pranced over to Frank, who had been waiting, his entire focus caught by him, by what they were creating together, and he was ready for it when Gerard shoved his hand in his hair and yanked, arching Frank's neck back.

Frank moved with it, curled himself around, pressing his forehead against Gerard's shoulder, the angle pulling his hair harder. He thrust his hips up against his guitar, needing the pressure, the pain rolling through his body as his hands kept playing steadily, Gerard singing right near his ear.

When Gerard released him, twirling and skipping across the stage and inviting the crowd to fuck right off, Frank felt like his strings had been cut, like there was nothing tethering him to the ground. He dropped to his knees, bending back as he played the shit out of his guitar, hitting chords and feeling like nothing could hurt him.

By the time the set was over, Frank's entire body was hot and loose, sweat dripping from his hair. He felt wrung out, like he had been used up by the ground and then given a jolt of energy that left him buzzing. They were finally in the groove, he could feel it; the guys all knew what to do now, how to respond to the crowd, how to make it work better than ever, even with Mikey's absence.

Gerard ruffled his hair as he passed Frank on his way over to Lindsey. Frank watched them for a moment as Gerard pulled her firmly into a kiss, Lindsey immediately pressing back hard, arms twined around Gerard's neck. It's weird how Frank pretty much expected it now, after only a week, but they looked like they fit together, in a way that should have been almost off-putting but wasn't quite.

It was fine. It was more than fine, from the look of sheer joy and adoration on Gerard's face when they finally broke apart, Lindsey's expression mirroring his completely. Frank took a deep breath and turned away, looking for Jamia. When he spotted her, she was already watching him, eyes thoughtful. He grinned back at her, wide and easy, and shook his hair out.

He walked up to her, the post-show high coalescing into something more focused, and he grabbed her by the hips and kissed her deep. He wasn't done yet tonight.

//

The absolute best part about a bus of their own was that they had a bed, an actual full-sized bed that Frank could lay Jamia out on, legs spread wide as he ate her out. No hunching in small corners, finding any available space that offered even a hint of privacy and taking their chances. He thought of Gerard and Lindsey for a moment, wondered where they could possibly go, but his complete focus was brought back fast by Jamia's hand hard in his hair. The sharp sweet pain in his scalp made him gasp and lick her faster, his eyes sliding shut as he gave himself up to her again.

"That's it, baby, just like that," she murmured from above him, voice breathy and a little weak. Her hips pushed up against his mouth, her legs shaking next to his face, and he breathed her in, spreading her open with his thumbs.

Guys who didn't eat out their girlfriends didn't know what the fuck they were missing. He hadn't always loved it, hadn't always known what the fuck he was doing, but that was before Jamia made it perfectly clear exactly what he was going to do, and suddenly it all made sense. He couldn't get enough of the taste of her, of the way his jaw felt after eating her out through three orgasms, the way he could feel how she responded to every single thing he did for her.

There was no way Gerard wasn't a fucking cunnilingus master, not after the way he went after blow jobs, his need to be right on the pulse of everything. Frank pressed his dick down against the mattress, his tongue working hard at her clit, images of Gerard on his knees for Lindsey cycling through his brain.

He snapped out of that fast when Jamia arched her back up against him, her voice going high-pitched and staccato. "Yeah, Jesus, fucking come on, come on," she bit out, and he kept his mouth moving nice and steady.

Her nails scraped hard against his scalp when she came, pulling him against her as she ground her hips up. He could barely breathe, his tongue aching, but he didn't pull away, would never, not until she was done and dragged him up to her, kissing him deep.

Before he could thrust inside her, she pushed at his shoulder until he rolled over onto his back. She climbed right on, sinking down on him in an instance, her cunt so wet and hot he thought he was going to die. He started to thrust up into her, hands reaching up to grab her tits swinging above him, but she flexed her hips and started to ride him.

"Yeah, okay, you drive," he got out, gasping as she moved above him, her body so goddamn beautiful he couldn't take it. He ran his hands all over her, across her collarbone and shoulders and down to her hips, digging in there before gripping her thighs hard.

She laughed at him, face lit up and gorgeous, a deep flush spread across her cheeks. He reached up a hand and cupped her face, thumb brushing over her cheekbone.

"I love you so fucking much," he said finally, the words wrenched out of him, and she just smiled back at him and clenched around him, and he closed his eyes and tilted his head back. It was too much to even watch.

When he finally came he blacked out, thrusting up in her as hard as he could one minute, panting and curled up around her the next.

She brushed the hair out of his face and kissed him on the forehead. "Love you, too," she said softly, and he drifted off.

 

August 17, 2004
Belleville

 

In eight hours, Frank would be on the road again.

The first gig was just in Philadelphia, it barely even counted, but after that it was Pittsburgh, Boston, and one last stop in New York before they headed out west and then all over the fucking place. He was pretty sure they were hitting the UK again in a couple of weeks; he couldn't keep the dates straight.

He couldn't believe he'd been in Japan ten days ago. A week ago he'd been on the worst plane ride of his fucking life, trying to hold Gerard together for twelve hours in the air, switching out with Mikey and Ray and Brian like they were in some sort of fucked up relay race as they tried to slap bandaids on a metaphorical head wound. He didn't know how they made it, but by the time they landed Gerard was still alive and Continental hadn't permanently banned the band from flying with them again, so he guessed they had won.

And he'd never had to break up with someone like he did with Otter, once they got back. Frank had been dumped in the past, had had his heart ripped out when he was young and had never even seen the West Coast, let alone Europe or Asia, but he'd never been the one to crush someone else like that. Frank had felt like an attorney delivering the divorce papers, aware for the entire time that he was coming away from that conversation with the proverbial house, kids and even the fucking dog in the settlement.

He didn't feel guilty about that part. Otter didn't deserve any of that shit, not after the way he'd acted these past couple of months. But Frank still felt bad about how it had all gone down. He'd missed a lot of what was actually going on since Three Cheers had dropped.

Three days later they had a new drummer, a new video in the can, and a bunch of tour dates salvaged out of the wreckage. And they had a new singer too, for all intents and purposes. For the first time in two years, Frank had no idea what Gerard would be like when he walked out on stage. It was almost as scary as Japan had been. Practically everything in Frank's life felt like it was a second away from just collapsing in around him, still.

Jamia pressed her face against his neck, and he let his hand sweep down the swell of her bare hip, tugging her thigh further across his body. Almost everything, but not quite. He kissed the top of her head. "Hey."

"Hey yourself," she said back, pulling away and looking at him. "What's up?"

He shrugged, still not sure how to say it. "I don't know."

"You nervous about tomorrow?"

Frank snorted and shook his head, because nervous didn't come close. "Fucking terrified."

She nestled closer against him, hand trailing up and down his stomach. "Is it Gerard, or Bob, or..."

"What, I can't be worried about both?" he joked weakly, then sighed. "No, I—I actually think they're gonna be okay. Or at least, I don't think they'll be any worse than it was before, you know?" She nodded, but kept quiet, waiting him out. "I just can't fucking believe I missed all of that."

She tapped his ribs, a warning. "Frank—"

He continued over her. "No, I just, I was a fucking moron, too fucking busy getting drunk and high to notice just how fucking bad it all was. Until we got to Japan—Japan, J, my band got sent to fucking Japan—and suddenly it didn't even seem worth it to me, because everything was all fucked up and it wasn't fun anymore, and it was because I had let it all go to shit."

"Yeah, you spent a lot of time forcing the coke up Gerard's nose and making sure that Otter was a shit drummer." Her voice was dry, but he could feel the tension in her body.

"I might as well have." Frank still didn't know how he had missed it, had missed Gerard going from being an occasionally over the top drunk to a fucking suicidal drug addict and alcoholic. His stomach hurt just thinking about the conversation Brian had had with them all in California once they got there for the video shoot, the way he just laid it all out there, Gerard sitting silently behind him, chewing on his nails.

He still hadn't really talked with Gerard about it all, not really, not since the flight from Japan. It seemed too hard, too dangerous when things were actually going well at the shoot. But right now he just felt like a fucking pussy. An oblivious jackass who didn't even know when his best friend was fucking dying in front of him.

Jamia pulled him back to reality with a pinch to his side. "Hey. You didn't choose that. I love that motherfucker too, but he wasn't going to change anything until he was damn well ready, no matter what anyone had said." Frank tried to interrupt her, but she wasn't stopping for shit. "I'm not saying that you shouldn't have noticed earlier, but you all had a lot going on, and it doesn't matter now. Apologize if you want, or try to, but just—be there for him now, Frankie. That's all you can do."

Frank waited to see if she had more—sometimes she took a little while getting warmed up and then just dumped thousands of words of wisdom on his sorry-ass head—but she was silent again. He opened his mouth and then closed it again, reconsidering his words. "I'm afraid it'll still suck, that it won't be better or whatever."

"Then fucking talk to him, okay? You think he's not afraid of that? Baby." He smiled at the pet name, couldn't stop himself. "I know this has been so fucking hard. But it's your band, you know? You're the one who gets to decide whether it's gonna work or not. So sack up and fucking deal with all of this, for real. Or just throw in the towel and let it become another band that could have gone somewhere, because this whiny bullshit really doesn't look good on you."

She was half-laughing by the end of it, Frank retaliating by getting his hands up under her arms and tickling her. "Why you gotta be so smart, woman," he complained, pressing his half-hard dick up against her.

"Natural talent. Just stop worrying so much. You need to get some sleep."

He shifted them both on the bed until he was between her legs again, leaning down to palm her tits and kiss her hard. "Fuck sleeping."

He had less than eight hours left. He wasn't wasting any of it.

 

Projekt Revolution
August 7, 2007
Atlanta

 

It was hot as balls in Georgia, and Frank wasn't spending any more time outside than he had to. Jamia somehow never actually minded this sort of weather, walking around for hours and barely looking sweaty at the end of it. It was clearly some sort of magic.

But he was fine by himself, rewatching season two of Six Feet Under, Mama conked out on top of him, the air conditioning on high enough that a living blanket didn't make him want to die. It was good to be able to lose himself in something for awhile and not have to deal with people every five seconds on tour. Or at least he assumed he'd enjoy it, if his fucking band didn't stop by to see him every forty-five minutes.

"Jesus Christ, Ray, can't a man get a little privacy?" he complained when there was yet another knock on his door.

Ray grinned up at him from the ground. "It's tour, Frank!" His face was shining with sweat, hair fucking frizzed out to hell in the humidity. "So no. You can't."

It was hard to argue with that, but Frank still wasn't going out there in that heat. "If you want to come up, come on up. But me and the dog aren't dying of heat stroke today."

"Aw, come on Frank, that was heat exhaustion, once, and you were fine by the show," Ray said, climbing up into the bus and closing the door behind him.

"Yeah, and I spent the entire time afraid I was going to throw up all over the wedge monitor. Not looking for a repeat performance of that." Frank slid back into the bench seat, slouching back down and staring up at the paused image of Peter having constipated emotions yet again.

Ray sat down in the chair up against the table. "You're really just gonna sit here and watch this again all day? Gee was looking for you, too."

Jesus, this was not what he wanted from this afternoon. "Yep. I know it would have been hard to survive without me for so long, but sometimes this is all I want, okay?"

Still not looking like he really understood, Ray finally nodded and stood back up. Frank gave an inward cheer of triumph, but he was way too optimistic. "Well, if we're watching TV all day, we're drinking beer, too," Ray said, walking over to the fridge and pulling out four bottles.

Well. Frank could work with that.

//

By his third beer Frank had given up even pretending that he was watching anymore. He also apparently lost any ability to keep his fucking mouth shut, too. "No, I mean, it's been good so far, really good, but it's also weird, dude."

"What, like traveling with Jamia?" Ray asked, his face concerned.

Frank shook his head fast and hard. "No no, that part's great, come on, man." He smiled a little, picking at the edge of the label on his beer. "That's what makes it all good."

Ray's beer bottle clinked against his while Ray twirled it on the top of the table. "It's about Mikey, then."

"No, it's not—" Frank started to say reflexively before sighing and leaning back in his chair. "I mean, yeah, of course that's weird, but Cortez is awesome."

"He's not Mikey though," Ray said before taking another drink.

"Of course he's fucking not, no one is." Frank scrubbed his hand over his face. "Seriously, dude, just don't even worry about it. I think I'm just like three steps ahead, thinking about the fall and what's coming up next instead of just being here or whatever. It's cool," he finished, finally looking at Ray again. When Ray didn't look completely convinced, Frank pushed himself up out of the seat. "Come on, let's fucking find Bob, I'm sick of being inside."

It wasn't a complete lie, anyway.

 

Late Night with Conan O'Brien
December 17, 2004
New York

 

If Frank actually let himself think about what was happening, he wanted to throw up.

So he didn't, just plopped himself backstage and attempted to ignore all of the assistants and make up people and god only knew who else scurrying by him while he carefully bit off pieces of white electrical tape and applied them to the front of the amp. He only had another twenty minutes before they were moving all the gear onstage, getting it set up for sound check and lights and all that, and then he would have another ninety minutes to kill while waiting to finally get out there.

But for now he just focused on each letter, making sure that the HI MOM AND DAD would be visible from the audience, and on TV.

He didn't let himself really look around while they were out there for sound check, didn't look at the cameras or the desk over to the side or at the stands of seats out in front of him. He just focused on Pansy, on making sure that she sounded just right, on feeling over her stickers to check that they were perfectly aligned and ready for the cameras.

Waiting in the green room was the absolute worst, and he spent about forty-five minutes ping-ponging between Ray and Mikey and Brian, trying to annoy them and take his mind off of everything. That worked until Bob finally got sick of it and actually motherfucking sat on him.

"Ow, get the fuck off me, fatass," Frank complained, pushing ineffectually at Bob's back.

"I'm not fat, you're just a shrimp," Bob said calmly.

Frank gave one last shove and then slumped back into the couch, which creaked ominously underneath him. "Both could be true, you know."

"Mmmmm." Bob just sat there for another moment, and then he started to bounce up and down.

This wouldn't end well. "Bob, come on, my lung's gonna deflate or something and then we'll be shit out of luck."

"Nope, you're the spare, Ray can hold it down." But he stood up as he said it, and Frank flailed a bit, wheezing and gasping and maybe playing it up just a little.

Given how fast Bob's hand came back down on Frank's chest, Bob wasn't fooled. "No, seriously Bob, I'll leave them alone."

"Good." Bob's eyes flicked over to where Gerard was just staring at himself in the mirror, eyes wide as he practiced his jazz hands or some shit. "It was making that one restless."

Frank rolled his eyes. "Come on, he doesn't even know I'm here."

"No, no, it messes with his aura." And then Frank spent the next thirty minutes arguing with Bob, not even realizing that Bob had been intentionally distracting him, that fucker, until the assistant PA knocked on their door and told them fifteen.

He had no idea what happened between that moment and the stage, just knew that he was with his band in a small hallway backstage, that they were all huddled together and trying to keep quiet and mostly succeeding, and then a different assistant was waving them onto the stage, their instruments all lit up by the hot lights above them. Once he had slung Pansy over his neck, he started to really feel the thrum in his body, and he looked out at the audience to where he knew that Jamia and his mom were sitting, blinding himself on the lights as he tried to see them.

Then he was interrupted by the countdown back in, and suddenly Conan was fucking introducing them and their album and holy shit, holy shit, this was actually real.

The performance itself was a blur, every ounce of his energy pouring out into his guitar and—when even that wasn't quite enough—against Gerard's back where he headbutted him. All of his nerves came together and just sang, in the best way, and he couldn't—he couldn't fucking believe they got to do this, couldn't believe that they had survived this year, survived all of the insanity and were actually better than they'd ever been before. His emotions spun him around as he danced with his Pansy, threw her this way and that, before knocking over his mic stand as he screamed out everything that was left in his lungs.

When it was over, he didn't mean to hug Conan, but a handshake just wasn't enough, couldn't possibly actually express what it was to play on his show, his actual show, what the fuck. Kissing Gerard, though, that was just the only way he could hope to sum it all up, at least until they could all hug backstage, the entire band.

They spent about forty-five seconds doing just that, in a circle, staring at each other and saying Dude, and I know back and forth before Gerard finally said, "Guys." Frank swung his head around until he was staring at Gerard's face, makeup melting off from the lights, his pink skin beginning to show underneath.

Before Gerard could impart whatever words of wisdom he had, there was a knock and then the door swung open. The Ways came through first, followed by Jamia and Frank's mom, and then Ray's brother and his parents.

Frank grinned wide. His band. Fucking hell, his band.

 

Projekt Revolution
August 10, 2007
West Palm Beach

 

It was fucking stupid, was what it was. But he just didn't fucking want to.

He hadn't said it like that, of course. When Gerard and Lindsey found him late that morning when he was still eating breakfast, he just begged off, saying he wasn't feeling totally great, and of course they were fine with leaving him alone. They weren't assholes, and it's not like they knew he was being a whiny little bitch. They didn't know he would lie to them so he could be alone while Jamia was at the Skeleton Crew booth.

Frank thunked his head against his pillow, staring up at the ceiling of the bus. Whenever he cried wolf to get out of anything, he always ended up feeling like he should actually be in bed, just in case the Illness Gods were watching. He didn't need to tempt fate.

Mostly he just felt like a moron.

It was really sweet, what Gerard was doing. He wasn't off with Lindsey and ignoring everyone else most of the time, he was bringing her around, making sure they all hung out together. It was like he was introducing her to the family, over and over again, even though all of them had known her for just as long as Gerard had.

It was weird, and different, and Gerard was acting like Frank had never seen him before with a girl. And Frank didn't really know what to do with that. But this thing was so fucking new, not even two weeks old, and Frank needed to get over himself. He smacked himself in the forehead to drive home the point. Of course Gerard was different right now. Didn't mean it'd be like this forever. Gerard had fucked up with relationships in the past, but that didn't mean Frank could be a dick now.

He had no right.

"Get the fuck up, you idiot," he muttered to himself, swinging himself out of the bed. This was fucking ridiculous. Couldn't be too hard to still find Gerard and Lindsey.

//

It was better when Frank actually got over himself and found them. Gerard looked over the moon about him joining them, like the entire afternoon suddenly wasn't a waste, and Frank felt sort of stupidly pleased by that.

The good mood carried over to the show that night, things going absolutely insane from the very beginning. Gerard wasn't taking no for an answer from this crowd, demanding that the guys take their fucking shirts off right the fuck now, motherfucking do it. And they fucking did, was the crazy thing, these dudebros who came in every night ready to stone face their way through the set and kill the energy for everyone—they fucking listened and obeyed, because it was motherfucking Gerard and he was a rare bird like that.

It had stopped surprising Frank, the power Gerard had up here, always, even when they were getting piss-filled bottles chucked at their heads. He got where the crowds were coming from too, because it didn't fucking matter what he was trying to convince Frank of—whether it had been staying up to have one more beer, or writing a song about prison sex, or dressing up as a fucking marching band from Hell, Frank was always in.

That was why when Gerard came up to him tonight and pulled him up tight against him, Frank went with it immediately, giving back as good as he got. There wasn't anything stopping him; Frank moved completely on instinct, pressing up against him with his crotch when Gerard knelt down on the stage, humping Gerard's head.

Sweat poured down his face and back and arms, drenching him as he felt like he was overheating from the inside out. He didn't think, just moved and played, responding to everything the audience and his band were giving him, pushing back like he couldn't stop.

He half-heard the speeches Gerard gave the crowd, about being themselves and not changing for anyone, not hiding, but they hit him deep, landing in his chest and blooming there. Frank was fucking sick of this, feeling like he didn't know what the fuck was going on, or what he could, and that was gonna change. Some people liked giving speeches or talking out their feelings; he was more of an action guy.

Spinning out, he collapsed on the ground and thrust up his hips at the sky. His mind blanked out, his body taking over.

When he left the stage after the set, he could still feel the adrenaline buzzing through his veins, the high of leaving it all out there. There was nothing left, nothing weighing him down, just a fierce joy and rightness about it all.

Everything was going to be okay. Everything was already okay. Things were great, even.

That feeling lasted right up until he turned a corner backstage, and saw, squeezed between two huge towers of gear boxes, Gerard and Lindsey pressed together.

Even in the dim light he could make out their movements against each other, see the way Gerard was tugging her leg up higher over his hip, her hands busy at the front of his skintight jeans. His hand looked huge on her thigh, fingers digging into her skin

They weren't completely out in the open, not exactly, but Frank wasn't the only one who was going to come through here, and he didn't know if he should say something. He had opened his mouth to speak when Gerard groaned low in the back of his throat, and Frank snapped his mouth shut.

He knew that sound, knew the way that Gerard bit off his breath, the high pitched gasps that always escaped even when he was trying to stay quiet. He heard the sound of a zipper sliding down, the rustle of fabric being pushed away, the slide of skin on skin.

Frank stood there, listening to them, picking out Lindsey's unfamiliar moans and her soft laugh, until Gerard moved harder and the boxes around them rattled and Frank realized he was watching them fuck, fuck, he couldn't—

He turned quickly on his heel and went in the other direction, hearing the sound of their voices in his ears long after he had made it back to his bus.

 

March 18, 2005
Somewhere in Nebraska

 

It was four a.m., and Frank couldn't sleep.

The bus was rumbling below him, eating up the miles through the midwest as they headed towards the next day, the next show. Usually the constant motion and noise was enough to knock him out, at least after a couple of hours, but his brain was wide awake, his body still jittery and amped.

He clicked off his iPod, too distracted to even zone out on music, and he tossed off his sheet and swung his legs over the side of the bunk. He slid slowly down the side, trying not to wake the others when he landed—Bob in particular was an absolute bear if you woke him up, no matter how accidental you insisted it was.

Frank smirked to himself. He could just knock into Bob's bunk, disturb his easily disrupted beauty sleep with one stumble. At least he'd have something to do then; attempting to escape from a rampaging Bob on a bus took skill.

In a rare moment of reason, Frank decided to let the sleeping giant lie, and headed out into the lounge. He figured that maybe a couple of hours of playing video games might do the trick. At least they'd help him pass the time.

When he got out there, he discovered he wasn't the only one not sleeping that night. "Hey, Gee."

Gerard waved at him from the couch, not looking up from his sketchbook, hand in constant motion. He was sketching another vampire in the same vein as all of his anxiety drawings. This one seemed a little different from the rest though, its face sad and lost. Frank knew better than to comment about it. Gerard had been clear from the beginning that while he wanted and needed their support. He depended on them for things like stopping him from taking cough syrup (seriously, Frank still has no idea what the fuck he was thinking. He supposed it was possible that Gerard hadn't been the same sort of twelve year old who used it to get buzzed, but he doubted it). But Gerard didn't want the kid gloves treatment, and he'd retreat into his shell even at the slightest suggestion that they were afraid of spooking him.

Frank had stopped drinking for about two weeks last September. It wasn't even a solidarity thing—he was pretty sure that if Gerard had known what he was doing, he would have just frowned and slouched further into his hoodie—he'd just wanted to check. And while he had missed drinking, a lot, he didn't have that hard of a time declining offers of beer. He'd just stuck to playing lots of video games and smoking an extra pack or seven a week.

His ability to just shut it down relieved him more than he'd like to admit, after watching Gerard in Japan. He wasn't about to go fucking straight edge or anything stupid like that, but it was still good to know.

Now, though, he and the guys had something of an unspoken system worked out, where at least one of them attempted to stay more or less sober every night on tour with Gerard—kind of like a designated driver for the band. If Gerard noticed, he didn't say anything, a Don't Ask Don't Tell agreement that so far had worked out pretty well. At the very least, the last seven months had been a success, and they hadn't crashed and burned yet.

So he just sat down next to Gerard on the couch, and leaned over into his space to see the drawing better without comment. Gerard tilted the pad so that Frank could see it easier, and Frank felt his body finally start to relax, like he needed the warmth of Gerard's furnace to mellow him out a little.

"You always run so hot," he commented absently.

"That's what the ladies always say," Gerard said back without missing a beat. Frank snorted, and Gerard grinned a tiny half-smile and cocked his head towards him. "I have that on good authority, motherfucker."

"Yeah, from your mom," Frank shot back.

"That's right," Gerard agreed calmly, and that was the problem with the Way brothers, they were fucking immune to the impact of a well-timed mom joke. It was both impressive and infuriating for a true master of the art form like Frank.

He nudged Gerard's shoulder with his chin. "Couldn't sleep, or just wanted to draw?"

"Pretty much the same thing, dude," Gerard said, sliding the black marker back into his pack carefully and extracting the blood red one. "But mostly the first."

Frank hesitated. He wasn't about to get his head bit off, but still—

"I'm fine, Frank," Gerard continued. "Just. I don't know. Wound up a little bit from so many shows in a row."

That Frank fucking understood. They were into the middle of the tour at this point, really grinding it out, and every night was both a bus night and a long ass haul across state lines. He sometimes thought back to the van days and had no idea how they'd even survived that.

He abruptly wished that it was actually late enough for him to call Jamia right now, but she wouldn't be up for another two hours at least, and she was almost as grumpy in the morning as Bob.

He focused his attention back on Gerard, his neat, even strokes filling in the lining of the cape this particular vampire wore. A yawn snuck up on him out of nowhere, surprising him.

"Baby animal," Gerard commented.

"...what?" Frank was better than most at following Gerard's more exciting mental tangents, but he couldn't catch them all. He was no Mikey.

"You look like a fucking baby animal when you yawn, all scrunched up nose and eyes and your big mouth," Gerard clarified. "You should be on motherfucking Animal Planet."

"Yeah, with my crooked teeth and lip ring. Fit right in," Frank said, trying to picture it.

Gerard shrugged, lifting the marker from the page and capping it with finality. "It's your natural state, Frankie. Like I said. You'd be perfect."

Evidently they were at the point of the evening when Gerard was one brain leap away from an entire television show pitch about Frank's apparent resemblance to animals. Clearly it was time to shut this down.

He shivered a little, the air out in the lounge cooler than in the back. "Come on, Gee. Time for this baby animal to go to bed."

"'Kay. Night," Gerard said, with no apparent understanding of subtle persuasion.

Frank shook his head. "Nuh-uh. You're coming with. Can't have a lead singer who doesn't sleep at all."

Gerard laughed his weird high-pitched honk. "Frank, we never fucking sleep. You know that."

He wouldn't be deterred. "Than just come back and help me sleep. Or I might get sick."

Frank felt kind of bad breaking out the "I have the opposite of an immune system" card, but it was already coming up on 5 a.m., and something had to give.

Just like he knew it would, that finally seemed to break Gerard out of his weird zoning place. "You feeling okay?"

Frank nodded quickly. "Yeah. Just. Come on." He stood up and waited as Gerard finished putting his markers back in their case and stowed them in his designated art bag along with the sketchbook.

Gerard finally stood up, eyes darting around a little. "You, uh, you think you might be cold back there? 'Cause we could share."

Tugging on the sleeve of Gerard's hoodie, Frank didn't bother to respond, just pulling him back through and climbing into Gerard's lower bunk, scooting up close and facing the wall. When he finally twisted around to look back, he saw Gerard's hands fidgeting at the bottom of his hoodie before he quickly climbed in after Frank, still in his jeans and everything.

Frank took a deep breath, Gerard's pillow stinky and familiar, his body and brain already more relaxed. The same couldn't be said for Gerard, who was managing to somehow drape himself around Frank while holding his body as stiffly as possible. Frank blew breath out of his mouth and wriggled around onto his back and then over to his other side so that he was facing Gerard.

"What's up, man?" he asked, eyes adjusting slowly to the dark. He could just make out Gerard's face, his slightly downturned mouth, and he fumbled for Gerard's hand and squeezed once.

Gerard slowly blinked open his eyes, finally meeting Frank's own. "It was harder tonight. I don't know why." Frank resisted the urge to speak or move or do anything and just waited. Finally, Gerard continued, his voice in a poor approximation of a whisper. "Not like, I wasn't going to go out and get something. I wouldn't. But just. The knowledge that I couldn't, that it wasn't even an option, I don't know." He stopped, hand twitching against Frank's. "That was harder to deal with. I couldn't stop thinking about it, and nothing worked to distract me."

Frank didn't know why he did it, but the words had barely left Gerard's mouth before he was shifting forward and kissing Gerard on the mouth. When he pulled back after a few seconds, the feel of Gerard's chapped lips still on his own, Gerard was staring at him, eyes wide.

He shrugged a little. "Distraction, you know?"

It was a gamble, he knew—he had to hope that he wasn't wrong, that this hadn't been something that was just a drunk thing, just something that Gerard did when he was out of his mind. But then he nudged forward, brushing his face against Frank's, and Frank took that for the invitation it was and leaned back in to kiss him again.

He had never really just kissed Gerard like this before, when it wasn't just something to keep his mouth occupied while he focused on the more immediate concern of getting Gerard to put his hand on Frank's cock. But right now he focused on kissing Gerard, his mouth soft and exploring, his palm cradling Gerard's jaw and keeping him close. He wanted Gerard to give it over to him, to let his guard down, to know as much as possible that they were there for him, that Frank had his back, always. He slid his lips against Gerard's, slipping his tongue into his mouth and then inviting him back. And Gerard followed, kissing him deeply before capturing Frank's lower lip between his, tongue flicking over his lip ring before his teeth tugged it gently.

It almost came as a shock when he felt Gerard's boner pressing up on his thigh, his hips hitching up against Frank slightly. He pulled away from Gerard just long enough to hear Gerard's whispered, "Sorry, I just," and Frank shook his head a little before leaning back in to kiss him again, his hand snaking down between them to grab Gerard's hip.

Getting Gerard's jeans down and off was a challenge in the tight space of the bunk, but somehow they managed, shoving them down under their feet. And then finally Frank had Gerard's dick in his hand again, hard and hot in his palm, the head leaking already as Frank started to stroke.

He was so focused on how good that felt, how good he wanted Gerard to feel, that he wasn't expecting Gerard's answering grope, his hand steady and sure on his cock through his boxers. Frank's entire body twitched, and he tried to somehow press even closer to Gerard as he kissed Gerard over and over again, messy and wet, his hand on Gerard's dick anchoring him somehow. But Gerard managed to get his boxers pushed down just below his ass and started jerking Frank's dick in time.

A soft moan escaped Frank's throat before he could stop it, but Gerard just kissed him harder in response. Frank's feet were flexing back and forth as he twisted his ankle around Gerard's calf, locking them close as they rocked together, chasing it together. It was sweltering in the bunk, sweat making his t-shirt stick to his back and dripping down his neck, but he ignored it, wanting nothing more than this.

He felt it when Gerard started to break apart, and Gerard pulled away from his mouth and pressed his open mouth against Frank's neck, gasping and biting down a little when he began to come, Frank's hand getting slick and sticky. He stroked him through, flicking his thumb up over the head until Gerard twitched back from his touch, and even then Frank didn't want to let go. He did though when Gerard started working him again in earnest, hands tight and hot around his dick and curling around his balls, firm and steady. Frank's head dropped back as he arched his back and then curled forward again, his legs moving restlessly as he pumped his hips into Gerard's hands.

When he came he had to bite down on his lower lip to keep from crying out, his entire body shaking as he finally got there, finally let go. He turned his head and pressed his face against the pillow, panting and trying to catch his breath as he rode out the aftershocks, stretching and tensing his legs for a second before letting them relax again, the sudden exhaustion in his limbs perfect and just what he needed. After he got his breath back, he shifted to look at Gerard again, who was already staring at his face. Frank smiled a little at how sleepy Gerard looked already, each of his blinks lasting longer and longer.

"Good night, Gee," he whispered, leaning in and kissing him one last time before tugging his hands up and arranging them around his pillow, his feet still tangled up with Gerard's. Finally, he could sleep.

 

Projekt Revolution
August 11, 2007
Tampa

 

It had only been a matter of time before Frank lost the ability to suppress his rage and confusion, and as usual he managed to take it out on the worst possible person.

Today had gone pretty well at first. He survived a radio interview with Gerard that actually hadn't been too bad, in the end. Gerard had been in a great mood during it, his eyes catching Frank's like they were sharing a private joke. Perversely, that made it worse in some ways, the fact that Gee clearly had no fucking idea, none at all. He just looked at Frank and smiled like there was nothing wrong, like Frank hadn't been on a short fuse for the last week.

The fact that Frank didn't want him to know, had been doing everything he could to keep him from noticing, was beside the fucking point. Subtlety wasn't really a part of Frank's world. If Gerard had wanted to see it, had even bothered to look, he would have seen it there as plain as day. He wrote it all out on his skin for everyone to see, as if his face didn't give it all away first.

There was a lot of writing on skin happening during this tour, but Frank felt curiously blank, like he had been painted over and hidden.

He begged off on hanging out after the interview, the excuses feeling weak on his tongue. But Gerard just accepted them easily, his face betraying no real sense of loss or rejection. For good reason, too—Frank really should be helping Jamia out with more of the Skeleton Crew responsibilities. Hell, he probably seemed like a great husband, spending his free time on their joint baby in the middle of a tour.

Some fucking partner.

When he finally found Jamia at the booth, it took him no time at all to let his inner asshole out. He couldn't fucking help himself.

"So, did you have a nice lunch with Lindsey?" he asked, trying to keep the resentment out of his voice.

From the way she looked up at him from her inventory spreadsheet, he clearly failed. "Yeah, it was good," she said.

Frank nudged further into her space. "Seems like she's having a great summer."

Jamia nodded, her attention already back on her work. "Yup, MSI's doing really well."

"No, I meant with Gerard," Frank clarified. If he was going to be a dumbass, he was gonna fucking do it. None of that half-assed bullshit.

"Seems like it," Jamia agreed, not looking up.

Frank swung around and sat down on the table, shifting her papers to the side, making her glare up at him. The smile he gave her was just on the wrong side of sincere. "What's their deal, anyway?"

She threw her pen down and blew her bangs up out of her face. "Well, if I had to guess, I'd say they're two geeks who have found their geeky match. That enough of an answer yet?"

"Maybe," Frank hedged. He folded his arms over his chest. "Not sure if that's the ultimate requirement."

Her glare turned into a look of complete bafflement. "We are talking about the same Gerard, right?" When Frank scowled harder, she pressed on. "But no, I think that she's an awesome girl who makes him happy. And she's fucking nuts about him, okay?"

"So she's fucking awesome, huh?" Frank asked, knowing that it was past time for him to shut the fuck up but completely unable to. "Anything I should know about you two?"

Jamia looked at him like he was crazy. "I'm pretty sure she's not really looking for that right now."

He shrugged, feeling petulant and like picking open a scab was the best possible plan. "I just thought I'd check."

Shaking her head, Jamia slapped her hands on the table and stood up. "Right. Well, whenever you feel like getting your head out of your ass, or talking to me about whatever the fuck is actually bothering you, let me know, k?" She didn't wait for a response, shoving her paperwork into his arms and walking out of the booth.

Frank let his head fall back and groaned. Fuck.

 

September 18, 2005
Chicago

 

Frank didn't even know how Gerard had met her.

To be fair, it wasn't like Frank had ever asked. But Frank certainly didn't wait for people to ask him about Jamia before he launched into their history, at least if they didn't have a tape recorder in their hands. His reluctance to talk about her with the media almost made it harder to not share every little detail with the band, bragging about how great her eggplant parmesan was, or suggesting that Mikey check out this new band she'd been listening to back home.

Gerard didn't discuss his girlfriend with the press at all, either. But he plain just didn't talk about her with anyone, and he talked about everything these days, especially now that he was clean. Frank saw him with his cellphone wandering through the buses a fair amount, but he never knew if he was talking to her, or his therapist or maybe his sponsor, if he had one that given month.

He definitely never called her after Frank had gotten done blowing him, or after he finished jerking Frank off. Frank sometimes felt like an asshole for always reaching out to Jamia afterwards, usually not even bothering to leave the hotel room, or dressing room, or wherever it was they were that time. But Gerard never seemed to mind, usually holding his hand out for the phone so that he could at least say hi to her.

Frank was pretty sure that if there was an asshole in this situation, it wasn't him.

But hey, not his problem.

//

There was no doubt in Frank's mind that he and Gerard weren't waiting until the bus tonight.

Gerard had been pushing from the very first song, energy manic and focus unrelenting on Frank. He could see how tight Gerard's pants were, could feel it when he pressed up behind Frank and slung an arm across his chest, holding him tight against Gerard's body.

Frank fed off it, giving in for just a moment, playing off Gerard's energy before exploding out, spinning off and swinging up his guitar, letting loose. But he always had his eye on Gerard, tracking him, waiting for him to come after him again.

It was no surprise when Gerard grabbed his bicep as soon as they were off stage and hauled him into a small closet, pushing Frank up against the closed door.

Frank pushed back instinctively, straining against Gerard's hold, ready for something, anything to actually happen after an hour of anticipation. But he went lax when Gerard leaned in and kissed him hard, tongue immediately seeking out Frank's. There wasn't anything he could do but kiss him back fiercely, clutching him closer, the sweat and stench of both of them mingling together in the tiny space.

He was already riding Gerard's thigh, pushing his dick up against him, just wanting more, when Gerard reached down and pinned his hips to the door, dropping to his knees in the same moment. Frank moaned as Gerard cupped his cock through his jeans, groping him roughly before stripping his pants and briefs down.

Just like that, Gerard had his mouth around his dick, wasting no time at all, bobbing up and down, his hand moving with him. Frank clapped his hand over his mouth and bit his palm. His moans escaped anyway, bursting out of him as Gerard took him all the way down and swallowed around him.

There was nothing subtle or delicate about this; Gerard was launching an all-out assault against him, and there was nothing Frank could do to prolong it. Gripping Gerard's shoulder tight, he tried to stay upright as he came his brains out, his dick pushing as far in Gerard's mouth as he could go, his legs weak with the effort.

Gerard pulled off with a cough, hands already working his pants open. But Frank pulled him up and swung him around. He needed to get Gerard's dick in his mouth, couldn't settle for just watching him jerk off this time. He fell to his knees as soon as Gerard was up again the door, his hands pushing Gerard's out of the way before he licked up his cock and then took it in his mouth.

Gerard's hands landed on his head, digging into his scalp and then twisting through the longer pieces of hair on top. It was like he was trying to control Frank's every move, and Frank was fine with that, wanted it, wanted to be used. Nothing could be better than being on his knees, his body still shaky from his own orgasm, Gerard pushing his dick further and further into his mouth.

Frank still couldn't take all of Gerard's cock, but he'd gotten a lot better, angling his mouth and relaxing his throat as much as he could. Gerard was leaking like crazy, his taste heavy and bitter on Frank's tongue, and spit was running down Frank's chin as he curled his tongue around the head of Gerard's cock every time he pulled out.

He could tell Gerard was about to lose it, was about to fucking let loose, his dick swelling on Frank's tongue. On the next upstroke he pulled back hard, letting Gerard fall out of his mouth, and before Gerard could protest too much Frank had his hand around Gerard's dick, jerking him roughly.

"Come on," he rasped out, his throat shot as he tilted his head back, looking up at Gerard. He was staring back at Frank, his eyes wide for a moment before he shut them and came, come hitting Frank's cheek and lips and chin. It was hot and felt like it lasted forever, Gerard's hips still thrusting forward as he gasped up at the ceiling.

When Gerard finally fell back against the door, still panting, Frank collapsed onto his ass, wiping his hand off on Gerard's jeans. Gerard looked down at him, eyes tracing over the come dropping down Frank's face.

"Frank," he said finally, his voice weak and disbelieving. Frank grinned up at him, his heart still pounding. Finally Gerard pushed off the door, stepping around Frank and ripping off a couple of sheets of rough industrial paper towels. He handed them to Frank.

"Thanks," Frank said, the paper harsh and not particularly effective on his face. He dropped the wad of paper on the floor. "So when is bus call again?"

 

Projekt Revolution
August 14, 2007
Virginia Beach

 

Because Frank was always a luckier son of a bitch than he had any right to be, Jamia didn't stay mad for long. He had found her after the show that night and immediately launched into an apology. When she tried to brush him off, he kept at it.

"No, seriously, I am so fucking sorry. I don't even know where that came from, I just sort of hit the tour crazies early or something," he said, following her back to the bus.

She stopped, finally. "Frank. It's fine. Just try not to be a dick at me when I'm in the middle of fucking work, okay?"

"I finished up the inventory for you," Frank said immediately. "It's all set, I promise. Sorry about that, too."

He could tell from the look on her face how much of a difference that had made, and he gave an inward sigh of relief. At least he wasn't a total fuck up.

Fixing that wasn't too bad, but he still didn't know what the fuck to do about anything else. He and Gerard had another interview together today, and he had no idea how it was going to go.

Turned out that looking back on My Chem's last couple of years and shooting the shit about kickball and fucking video games was just like being on stage: it didn't seem to matter what bullshit was going on in their real lives, as soon as they could just talk about the band, about where they'd come from, everything relaxed, and it was like it was all normal again.

That didn't last, though. As soon as they were done, Gerard gave him a tentative half-smile and jerked his thumb over his shoulder. "I'm gonna go call Mikey, I think," he said, eyes not meeting Frank's.

"Tell him hi for me," Frank said automatically, giving a wave and then turning away before he could watch Gerard act like everything was cool. He lit up another cigarette as soon as he was outside again, chain-smoking all the way back to the tour site, his throat dry and crackly by the time he stopped.

So Gerard had finally picked up on something being wrong. Give that motherfucker a goddamn gold star.

It would be one thing if the shows suffered as a result of Frank's bullshit, if everything was bleeding over into that. But something changed the second they got up there under the lights, like they were both willing to just pretend for fifty minutes that things were the same, the way that they all did about Mikey being gone.

And Frank hated himself for it afterwards, hated how motherfucking weak he was, but he took it, gladly. He gave Gerard everything he asked for and more, kept coming back, kept losing himself in the fantasy, the ease and the comfort and the history, only to have it come crashing down at the end. It happened every single motherfucking time, like cold water hitting him in the face.

Frank wasn't unfamiliar with feeling like a douchebag. It was a role that he had spent years cultivating. But what let him sleep at night was the knowledge, constant and true, that if he was a douchebag, it wasn't to his friends, and it definitely wasn't to his family.

He didn't think he was being a douchebag this summer, or at least no more than usual. He fucking apologized to Jamia, and he knew he had to talk to her or else his head was going to explode. But he didn't even know how to act around Gerard anymore, didn't know if he was being a dickhead or a fucking patsy, dumb enough to not see the writing on the wall.

Frank grabbed yet another beer and tried to stop thinking about it.

 

Paramour
March 28, 2006
Los Angeles

 

Frank hadn't slept for more than five hours a night in a long, long time.

They were all having a rough time of it, getting an early start every morning simply because none of them could actually stand to stay in their rooms for too long. For some of them it was nightmares, dreams that left them weak and shaky and more exhausted than when they'd fallen asleep, but Frank just couldn't fall asleep, period. His brain was too wound up, too hyper and anxious and jittery, and so most nights he didn't bother trying to actually sleep. He just curled up in bed with a book, reading until he dropped off without consciously meaning to, essentially tricking his body into getting what it needed.

He wasn't reading when he heard a knock on the door this night, though, and he put down his notebook and pen and climbed off the bed. When he opened the door, it was Gerard, hands clutching the bottom of his t-shirt and tugging it down further over his pajama bottoms.

Frank stepped back wordlessly to let him in; Gerard shuffled inside, folding his arms over his chest even though it was plenty warm in the house. Shutting the door carefully, Frank made his way back to the bed, climbing on with his back up against the wall, feet sticking out over the edge of the mattress. He watched Gerard, waiting for him to come to the bed, and finally Gerard did, his feet barely leaving the floor as he crept over to Frank.

Gerard crawled up next to him, swinging around and letting his head thunk back against the wall, closing his eyes. Frank didn't say anything, shuffled a little closer and pressed his shoulder up against Gerard's.

Finally Gerard lifted his head back up and turned a little to look at Frank. "Can't sleep?"

Frank grinned ruefully. "Nope. You?"

"No. Well, I think I could, but I don't want to," Gerard said, his hands restless on top of his thighs, tips of his fingers brushing over Frank's arm carelessly. He craned his head over and looked at Frank's notebook. "You writing?"

Frank shrugged, pulling the notebook up onto his lap and shutting it. "Yeah, but just a letter to Jamia. Not writing writing." They were so disconnected that even their cellphones didn't work. It had been years since it'd been so hard to reach out to J, not since their first tour in Europe, and it'd never been this bad in the States. Frank kind of liked having to write, though, being able to just say it all, nothing to prevent him from laying it out there, how hard this was, the fear of being close to creating something real and new and not knowing if they would make it. He leaned over and put the notebook on the nightstand. "I like having to write it out," he said, suddenly feeling a little shy.

If Gerard noticed, he didn't acknowledge it. "I get that. It's like drawing or something, you know? Connecting right to the page. It's different than on the phone or in an email." His voice was soft, careful, like they could disturb the entire house if they raised their voices, even though Ray and Mikey's rooms were all the way down the hall. They were quiet for a minute, Frank's mind finally lulled into a bit of peace when Gerard said, "I can't draw at all right now."

Frank looked over at him, but Gerard was staring out in front of him, eyes wide and unblinking. "Can't or don't want to?"

Gerard shook his head. "I've never felt like this. I keep thinking, well maybe if I can't sleep, I can at least do something, give myself a break from the songs, but they're all I've got room for." He finally turned to look at Frank, the dark circles under his eyes deep and worrying, his birthmark livid on his cheek. "But I can't be with it all 24/7, you know Frankie?"

Frank nodded, feeling out of his depth and suddenly mad at this entire situation. "You need a break."

"I really do," Gerard said quietly, letting his head fall back once more against the wall.

"Well, that's what you have me for," Frank decided, swinging around a little once he had made up his mind. "Come on."

Gerard blinked open his eyes. "We're going someplace?"

Frank shook his head. "Just get under the covers."

Gerard's body tensed, leaning away from where Frank was reaching out to him. "Frank, I don't want to sleep."

"You're not sleeping, okay, just come on," Frank insisted, unwilling to be deterred. He didn't know if this would work, fuck, he didn't know if anything would work, but he had to do something, or else they were all going to fray apart at the edges, each of them becoming more and more fragile until there was nothing holding together any of them.

He tugged down the sheets and got in as far as he could until Gerard's body blocked his progress, and he kept his focus on Gerard until finally he started to move up towards the head of the bed and slipped in next to Frank.

Okay. One step down. Frank twisted around until he was on his side facing Gerard, who was on his back staring up at the ceiling like he was in a coffin. He wasn't kidding about not wanting to sleep; usually he burrowed in deep, hugging about three pillows to his chest and curling up around them all. There was no way he was dropping off like that.

Frank reached out carefully and took hold of his wrist, gently tugging Gerard towards him until finally Gerard huffed and shifted onto his side, staring at Gerard. "Frank, I don't—"

"Have I ever told you about the time my mom decided to take me to the Pine Barrens? Thought maybe I needed to see nature or some shit?" Frank interrupted, hooking one ankle around Gerard's.

Gerard blinked. "I don't think so?"

"Okay, good." And Frank started to talk, telling that story and then another, and another, running through his childhood memories one by one, barely stopping to pause between each of them. He watched Gerard's face, watched as he relaxed a little into the pillow, could see him listening intently, at least until the pull of sleep became too strong.

But Frank wasn't trying to trick him; when Gerard startled himself back awake, his eyes frantic, Frank moved closer, putting his hand on his side. "Hey, it's okay. You don't have to sleep."

Gerard shook his head against the pillow. "I don't want to but I'm gonna, Frank."

Frank rubbed his hand over his hip, soft and soothing. "If you do, then I'll be here," he said simply. "Now where was I?"

"Your eighth birthday, with the bike," Gerard said with a yawn, fingers sneaking out to grip the front of Frank's shirt.

"Right," said Frank, and he began again.

 

Projekt Revolution
August 21, 2007
Toronto

 

Sticking his head in the sand wasn't always his preferred solution, but sometimes Frank didn't know what else to do.

He didn't know how to be more obvious with Gerard, how to show him any more clearly that Frank was still here, that just because Jamia was here and Lindsey had entered the picture, nothing had to change.

But it had, it had changed already, and Frank didn't know how to get it back and wasn't about to ask. He felt like he had already asked so many times, onstage and off, and Gerard's answer seemed pretty fucking clear.

Frank just wasn't willing to fucking see it.

So he just survived, hiding as much as he could and hanging out when it would be just too weird not to, playing each show and watching Gerard slide his hand down his chest and hook his thumb under the belt buckle, tugging it down. Sometimes he felt like he couldn't be more obvious if he stripped down to nothing on stage and got on his knees in front of Gerard; every night he felt compelled to do something different, licking up a mic or sucking on a condom or getting on his back, dick pressing up hard against his guitar as he shook his hair.

Playing on stage always felt a little out of body, like he wasn't really in control and was just watching himself go. But this was something else, his need and frustration pouring out of him, and no one seemed to get it.

Or at least Gerard didn't.

Jamia could, he could see that now, and it was both a relief and completely mortifying that he was so transparent to her, that she knew what was happening, knew why he needed her to fucking take charge and pull him back together every night. He always liked letting her drive, liked how she fucking put him in his place with her eyes and mouth and hands, but this went beyond that. It was a complete vulnerability that he didn't know what to do with, just shook through each night and then ignored every morning, unable to face it in daylight.

It was the middle of the night when he finally broke.

He was still panting on his back, Jamia pressed up against his side, when he blurted out, "I just don't know what to do."

She didn't pretend to not know what he was talking about, wriggling closer to kiss him on the cheek. "Fucking talk to him."

"What the fuck am I even supposed to say," Frank said up at the ceiling.

"Well, you start with the fact that you're in love with him—oh, baby," she said when Frank looked at her, startled. The mixture of sympathy and shock on her face was almost unbearable. "Really?"

"I'm not," he started, not sure what it was exactly that he wasn't, but sure that he couldn't be. Or shouldn't be. "That's not—"

"Frank." He shut his eyes at the sound of her voice. "Either you are, or you're just a dickbag who's being an asshole to his best friend for no reason."

His heart sounded so loud in his ears. "I'm not an asshole," he admitted finally. "Or at least, not without a reason."

Usually when he told Jamia something, even something he didn't want to, he felt better immediately. But the pit in the bottom of his stomach just grew, eating him up inside. A wave of hopelessness filled him, resentment bleeding through that this had ever come up, that he didn't just keep this stuff down from the very beginning, from the first time Jamia had asked him about fucking dudes. Fucking stupid.

He was pulled back from his neverending loop of recrimination and rage by Jamia tugging him over onto his side, her hand on his face. When she leaned in and kissed him, he forced himself to open his eyes and actually look at her.

She looked thoughtful, not angry or critical, nothing like that, and also so goddamn beautiful he didn't know how to take it. This was what made him such a fuck-up; he had a wife he didn't even deserve, had never deserved, and here he was wallowing over his fucking best friend and his new girlfriend.

Frank had to say something, had to at least try to fix it. "I'll talk to him."

"Yeah?" she asked, her voice a little uncertain.

He nodded firmly. "Yup. It's Gerard, he loves talking. We'll figure it out." He pulled her in for a kiss, putting all the certainty he didn't feel into it.

He would fix this.

 

December 11, 2006
Las Vegas

 

Leaning forward so that he could see the listing better, Frank frowned as he read the specs of the third listing Jamia had sent him.

4 bedrooms, 3 baths, finished basement, fenced in backyard. Detached two car garage. He clicked through the pictures before staring at the map again. He knew that street. It was one of the main drags in the town, pretty wide and busy and—nope. He wanted something quieter, like a real neighborhood, one it would be safe to walk around in. He wasn't even sure that road had sidewalks, now that he thought about it. He shook his head and closed the window, about to take a look at the second to last link.

"You studying for a second career, Frank? Gonna sell some hot Jersey property when we're off tour?" Toro was sitting on the arm of the couch behind him, and he leaned into Frank's side as Frank looked over the next option.

"Yeah sure, I'm totally going to get on that in 2050 when we finally get off the road," Frank said absently, not feeling this next option either. It was the right size, laid out well and all, but the master bed and bath suite was on the first floor, and he just wasn't sure that would work. He didn't think he'd want to be isolated like that from the rest of the bedrooms. It was pretty nice though, and probably worth a look. He made a mental note to add it to the list of places for him to visit with J when they got back in a week.

"Making money in real estate, I like it," Ray said.

Frank grinned and leaned back, looking up at him. "I gotta have a nice place set up for my fiancé, what can I say?" Ray smiled down and patted him on the shoulder before standing up and wandering over to the bathroom.

"You should check out that gated place with me and Alicia when we get back," Mikey called out from near the food spread, where he was holding a box of Pop Tarts in one hand and a box of Cap'n Crunch in the other, looking like that decision was about as much as he could really handle.

Frank shook his head. "Nah, I don't think that's what we're looking for. We want to be of the people, Mikeyway," he said solemnly, just getting his hands up in time when Mikey threw the box of Pop Tarts at his head. "Hey, thanks," he said, cheerfully pulling the carton open.

When they had started getting the numbers back from the label last month, had seen exactly how well Black Parade was already doing, that had been it for Frank. He was motherfucking sick of not having enough space, of not having a place he actually wanted to go to when he got off tours and was back in Jersey. He and Jamia had been in the same apartment for almost two years, and they had outgrown it about a year and a half ago. It was time, they were ready, and there was no doubt that this shit was for real now. Three Cheers had paid for itself, and Taste of Chaos and Warped Tour both put some real money in all of their bank accounts, but this was different. This was house money.

Plus there was only so long that Frank was willing to go without a yard big enough for all the dogs he wanted. He was ready to write that check once they found the right place.

He felt the couch sink down next to him, and he turned to Gerard who was staring at his screen unabashedly, his awareness of the concept of private correspondence never particularly good. It wasn't like Frank wasn't used to it though, and he just turned the laptop a little so that Gerard could see the house better, the huge side yard with a pretty thick little wooded area between the property and the next house over. He liked that, liked that little bit of privacy and separation from the next house. Maybe he could get used to the downstairs bedroom idea after all.

"Looks pretty nice, Frankie," he said finally, glancing at Frank's face and then holding out a hand for some Pop Tarts. Frank passed over a foiled-wrapped packet to him, and Gerard opened it absent-mindedly, staring at the screen again. "I can see you guys there."

Frank nodded, suddenly feeling a little awkward. He bit into his own Pop Tart in a hurry, glad the venue staff had read the rider correctly and actually got the frosted ones. "I hope so. We'll see, it'll probably be all different in person."

Gerard wiped crumbs off his mouth with the back of his hand and took a big swallow. "At least you know where you want to be, you know?"

The pit in Frank's stomach started growing, the pre-show nerves apparently showing up in full force today. "Yeah, I mean, you'll figure it out. But I think you can afford to move on from Queens, okay?"

That got a laugh out of Gerard, and Frank grinned back at him, biting off a huge piece of the Pop Tart. Gerard leaned over further and clicked through to more pictures of the house's interior. "I'm pretty sure Queens won't fly anymore."

"You thought kids on the subways were bad before, they'll be even worse now with this hair," Frank agreed, sweeping his hand up over Gerard's head and deliberately ignoring any other implication about why Queens might not work for Gerard now. He was positive Eliza wouldn't be caught dead living out on the Q, though.

Gerard just tilted his head in response, moving with Frank's hand, and Frank took the hint and started scratching over his scalp, the bleach and chemicals making Gerard's head itchy and tight. Gerard's hand pressed up against the outside of Frank's thigh, and he shifted against it a little. Gerard slowly slumped further down until his head was against Frank's shoulder, curled up in the crook of Frank's arm.

Still scratching Gerard's head, Frank clicked open the final link, pulling the laptop closer to see the listing. Big backyard, huge kitchen, five bedrooms, all of them upstairs, on a quiet, secluded street not too far from the center of town. Fireplace in the great room, and a bar set up in the fully finished basement. And a fantastic elementary school a quarter of a mile away.

Frank smiled.

 

Projekt Revolution
August 25, 2007
Camden

 

The worst part was that he wasn't even that drunk.

Except that no, every other part was actually much, much worse. It would be convenient to have something more than his own stupidity to blame at the end of the day, but in the end this was all on him, and even the slight haze of alcohol wasn't enough to distract him from that.

It did seem to make it easier to not focus on the words leaving his mouth, to not edit or hold back as they poured out of him unfiltered, but Frank never had learned to pull his punches. It was something he had meant to work on, but never did.

Gerard had always said it was one of his favorite qualities about Frank. Frank wondered how much he thought that now.

It had all started innocuously enough. The whole band plus Jamia and Lindsey had come back to the main tour bus after their set, beers all around except for Gerard's Coke Zeros lined up on the counter. It was good to be back in Jersey, to play for a crowd that had more of their kids in it and fewer douchebags looking for trouble. The night should have been perfect and easy, from start to finish.

Instead Frank felt like he was a rubber band about to snap, nothing holding him together, not like it should. He couldn't stand to be alone, couldn't deal with just being around Gerard and Lindsey, and he thought this might be better, back with all the guys, trying to blend or some shit. But so far the only thing that seemed to make it better was making his way through this six pack as fast as he possibly could.

He threw down his fifth empty bottle and stared at where Lindsey was sitting on Gerard's lap, one hand tight around his shoulder, a Dr. Pepper in her other hand. He scowled a little, cracking open his next beer. She definitely drank, he had seen her with beer, but maybe she didn't around Gerard, out of solidarity or some bullshit. Maybe she didn't need to drink when she was around him.

The conversation had left him behind when he finally opened his mouth. "I think that this is all great, okay?" he said, pointing the neck of his beer at Gerard and Lindsey.

"Thanks?" Gerard asked, his voice uncertain. Probably he hadn't even been paying attention to Frank.

He felt Jamia's hand tighten on his other arm, but he ignored her. "Yeah. I mean, can't say I really expected it, or whatever, but it's cool. You don't want dick anymore. I get it."

"Frank," Jamia said into his ear, her voice low and urgent. The bus was suddenly quiet. Frank saw Bob and Ray stand up and head towards the back out of the corner of his eye.

He kept going. He had a point, dammit. "You just maybe could have actually said something, asshole. Did he ever say anything to you? About us?" he asked, attention shifting to Lindsey. She was watching him back, mouth pursed.

"Yeah, he did, actually," she said finally.

At that Frank stood up. He was fucking over this shit. "Well, that's great. I'm glad you know. I hope you give him everything he apparently never got from me. I'm fucking done here."

He drained the last of his beer and slammed it down on the table before stumbling over to the door, practically falling out the bus. He thought he heard someone following behind him, but he didn't bother to wait.

 

June 7, 2007
England

 

It all happened so fast Frank hardly had time to process how he felt about any of it.

On Wednesday Gerard just had a girlfriend, albeit one he wore a ring for. By Saturday he was engaged, his face pink and voice high when he told the guys in the green room before a show. And then before the week was even out, he was suddenly single, really single, in a way Frank couldn't remember him ever having been since he'd known him.

All of this drama went down while they were touring like maniacs, of course, traveling thousands of miles all over Europe for crowds that Frank still couldn't believe, how they just responded to every single note like My Chem had cracked open their skulls and dug into their souls. Whatever emotions Frank was having just got thrown into the performance, his feelings coming out on stage where he didn't have to name anything, could just move and get it out until he was empty again, until he could pack up his bag and get on the bus or train or plane and do whatever his crew told him, follow directions and just keep going, keep on going.

Because there was nothing to be done about it, about anything, no use trying to have control, or even figure out what he felt. He had his wife, Gerard had whatever the fuck was going on his relationship, it wasn't his fucking business. It wasn't. Fucking handjobs aside, Gerard was taken. Had always been taken.

Until suddenly he wasn't.

And Frank couldn't do anything but what he always did: play the shows and take what he could.

 

Projekt Revolution
August 26, 2007
Hartford

 

Frank had woken up to the pounding headache and sour stomach of terrible choices more times than he could count. He didn't usually get hit in the face with the memory of him being a complete fucking moron though. Most of the time he was smart enough to either not fuck up quite that bad, or to drink so much he blacked out altogether. No such luck this time.

The bus had already arrived in Connecticut by the time he peeled himself out of bed, in search of coffee and water. Jamia's side of the bed was empty and cold. He didn't know if that was a good sign, or a really
bad one.

The smell of coffee from the lounge made it pretty clear that he would be dealing with this sooner rather than later. He took his time in the bathroom, pissing for fucking ever and brushing his teeth until his gums hurt. He scrubbed his hands through his hair, pulling it out hard and stared at himself in the mirror. Fucking do it.

He padded his way out to the lounge, noting the cup of coffee waiting for him already on the table. He ignored it at first, making a detour to the cabinet with the Advil in it and dumping out three pills for himself. "You okay?" he asked, shaking the bottle at Jamia.

"I'm fine," she said, taking a sip of her coffee. He recapped the bottle and finally walked over to the table and slumped down into his chair, popping the pills into his mouth and taking a large gulp.

The coffee was sweet and light and not too hot. Way more than he deserved right now.

"So when I said you should talk to Gerard—"

"I know," he groaned, leaning back and dragging his hands down his face.

"—That wasn't what I fucking meant, Frank."

"I didn't exactly plan it out, okay?" He forced himself to look at her, almost wishing that it was easier to get an actual rise out of her. She was like the zen master over there, and Frank was a fucking sparkplug ready to ignite at the smallest thing. It would make him feel like less of an idiot if she sometimes lost control like he did.

Of course, if they were both the same kind of asshole that he was, they probably would have killed each other within the first year. Maybe it really was for the best.

He fought through the relentless throbbing in his head and made himself ask. "So was it as bad as I remember it being, or worse?"

"It was pretty bad," she said, leaning back herself. "Gerard looked liked you'd hit him across the face. Bob and Ray left before the worst of it, at least."

Holy shit. "Oh my god, I forgot they were even there."

"Yeah, you didn't seem to have much awareness of anything other than how tragic your life was," Jamia agreed. She pushed back from the table. "I think they'll be fine, though, assuming you're not a dick tonight at the show."

Fuck. Fuck. "Yeah, okay." He didn't want to say it, but, "So I guess I need to talk to Gerard again, huh?"

"This time don't bring any liquid courage with you, either." Jamia bent over him, holding his face in her hands. "Seriously, Frankie, this can't keep happening like this. I really don't think you've done anything that can't be fixed, but if you don't figure this out now, that'll change really fast."

He nodded, tilting his face up until she leaned down and kissed him. "I know. Fuck. I'll do it."

She kissed him again quickly before straightening up. "Okay. I'm heading out to the booths. Call me if you need me."

His brain was already moving forward, trying to imagine how this was even going to go, what he could say to make any of this suck less. "I will."

Before he could come up with anything resembling a plan, his phone rang. His stomach tensed up at the sound, afraid that it would be Gerard and that he'd have to deal with this already, but it was Mikey.

He hit answer before he could talk himself out of it. "Hi, Mikey."

"You had to make things exciting while I was gone, didn't you?"

Frank winced and didn't try to deny it. "So I guess Gerard called you, huh."

"Yeah, at like 4 a.m. Didn't appreciate that, Frankie."

"Sorry." Frank walked over to the couch and flopped down onto his back. "I know I need to fix it," he said, beginning to hate the sound of his own voice.

Mikey was silent for a minute. "Just tell him the truth, okay?"

Frank frowned. "What do you mean?"

"Whatever it is that's going on with you, just fucking tell him. Don't try to fix it, dude. Fucking man up about it."

Trust Mikey to cut to the core of it in like five seconds. "How'd you get so smart, Mikeyway?"

He heard a small snort. "I just know my brother, dude."

There was another silence, and as much as Frank couldn't stand talking right now, being forced to hear his thoughts was almost worse. "Okay, well we'll see you in a couple of days, okay? And I promise things won't suck by then."

"That's the kind of thing I love to hear," Mikey said dryly, but by the time Frank hung up with him he felt a little better.

As he made his way to the MSI bus, he realized he didn't even know if Lindsey would be there, or if she'd be by the stages already. He almost turned back right then, but then she came out of the bus and he forced himself to stay where he was.

"Hi, Frank." Her arms were crossed over her chest and her voice was pretty wary, but she hadn't told him to fuck off immediately, so it had already gone better than he had been expecting.

"Can I talk to you for a minute?" When she didn't say anything at first, he quickly clarified, "I want to apologize."

Her face softened a little at that, and she turned back to the bus. "We can talk in here."

He followed her in, looking around the space. They'd never hung out here before, always spending time either at MCR's bus or backstage, pretty much, and Frank tried to focus on how it was different from his own. It was a distraction from how his stomach was churning and his sweaty palms.

He wiped them off on his jeans and took a seat at the table when she gestured toward a chair. Okay. It was like pulling off a bandaid. Just do it. "Lindsey, I'm so fucking sorry." He glanced up at her, but she didn't say anything. "I fucked up so bad, and you didn't deserve any of that. And neither did Gerard. I'm gonna talk to him, too, but I needed to apologize to you first."

The last place he wanted to look was at her face, but he forced himself to focus on her, not pussy out and stare down at his hands or something. He didn't know if he should keep talking, or what else he could even say, but before he could figure something out she spoke. "Well, last night definitely wasn't how I expected that conversation to go, whenever we had it."

He laughed bitterly. "I didn't think we'd be talking about it at all."

"I'm surprised it took so long. He told me about the two of you in San Bernadino."

Frank blinked at that. San Bernadino was three thousand miles away and almost a month ago. "Really?" When she nodded, he asked, "What did he say?" before he could stop himself.

She smiled. "That you were his best friend and you had held him together for years, but he couldn't keep depending on you for that."

The bottom of Frank's stomach fell out at that, the idea that Gerard didn't think he was trustworthy landing like a punch to the gut. "I didn't know he felt that way," he said slowly, trying to pull himself together, finally looking away from her.

"Frank." He glanced back up at her. Lindsey's confusion was clear on her face. "I don't think—" She stopped, moving closer to him. "Thank you for apologizing," she said finally, her voice warmer and more like he was used to from her. "I really do appreciate it. But you need to talk to him, too."

"I know, I know," he said, mentally berating himself again, staring down at his feet.

"Frank," she said again, and he looked up at her again, surprised that she was so close. That gave way to utter shock when she put one hand on his cheek before leaning in and kissing him, her lips soft and warm against his own.

When she pulled back, all he could do was stare at her for a moment, mouth open. "Lindsey—"

"Stop being an idiot and talk to him before you apologize to me again, okay?" She moved back from his chair, lifting her chin up towards the door. "He's probably lurking near your bus at this point, I know he wanted to see you before tonight."

Frank swallowed hard and then nodded, sucking his lower lip into his mouth. He could taste her lipstick on it.

//

He meant to find Gerard, he really did, but when he got back to his bus and Gerard wasn't there waiting, he figured that a nap couldn't hurt anything. By the time he woke up he was already late for their call, and he didn't see Gerard again until they were waiting to go on. Frank spared a moment to wonder whether it would be weird between him and the guys after his fucking meltdown last night, but from the first chord until the last it was like nothing had happened. All of their energy came together like it always did, the music outweighing everything else, at least for another hour.

Running away wouldn't help anything, but he did it anyway, slinking back to his bus as soon as he could to give himself a few more hours to breathe.

He would do it tomorrow. He had to.

 

July 19, 2007
Jersey

 

Gerard was a stubborn motherfucker, no question about it, but when an idea burrowed its way into Frank's mind, he could be just as pig-headed.

So it really didn't matter how many times Gerard insisted that he would be fine staying at his parents' place for the five days between tours, really, it was no problem—Frank had three extra rooms, and Gerard was going to be using one of them. No fucking way was he going to be alone and in between apartments right now. The last month had been weird enough.

"At least for the first couple of days, man," he said, grabbing Gerard's bag off the carousel before he could reach it. "You're too old to be in a fucking basement."

"I like my basement," Gerard muttered, trying and failing to grab the bag back from Frank, who slung it onto his luggage cart and started pulling it towards the exit. "And I can see my parents—"

"You can see them in a couple of days," Frank bargained, walking backwards away from him. "You've barely even seen my house yet."

Frank finally halted when Gerard stopped following him. "You haven't been home in months, Frank. I don't want to get in your way with Jamia, you know?"

Oh. Frank grinned, his heart beating a little faster as he thought about the summer. "Dude, she's gonna be with me the whole tour. We can deal with a houseguest for a couple of days. Come on." He barely kept himself from cheering out loud when Gerard finally crossed his arms over his chest and nodded. "Fuck yeah. Time to go sleep for days."

//

He wasn't actually out for that long, but he did sleep most of the way through the first day, and for about fourteen hours of the next day. From what he could tell Gerard was down for almost as long, although when he padded into the living room the second afternoon Gerard was already there, Mama sitting at his feet.

Frank took a look at the television. "Planet Earth, huh?"

Gerard nodded. "It's just, it's so fucking cool. All these plants and animals doing so much just to survive." He blinked really slowly, like he was high on nature or something. "Did I ever tell you about the sea iguanas?"

"There are iguanas in the sea?" Frank asked. He sat down next to Gerard on the couch, which was, apparently, enough to get him a thirty minute monologue about the majesty and determination of some really hard core lizards.

Gerard was still half-watching the antelope jumping across the Serengeti as he talked, his tale of insane survival skills set to the background music of David Attenborough's narration. "They dive into the freezing cold water just to get enough algae to feed their babies. By the time they climb back out, after battling against the surf, they can barely fucking move. And they have to do it every fucking day. What the fuck do I do every day?"

"Drink a lot of coffee?" Frank offered.

"And you're really good at it," Jamia added from the other side of Gerard on the couch. She had come in around the time when Gerard was explaining just how far down each iguana had to dive in order to feed. "Don't short-change yourself."

Gerard half-smiled at her, the late afternoon sun lighting up his face, and Frank couldn't help staring, at the way his eyes glowed in the light, his hair swirled all around his head from pushing his hand through it. He stopped listening to what Gerard was saying, focusing instead on how his mouth looked, lips pink and slick from talking.

When Gerard turned back his way, glancing over at Frank to see if he understood his point, he didn't think, just leaned in and kissed him.

There was a moment when Gerard kissed him back, the act easy and natural, before he jerked away and looked over at Jamia.

"Gee, it's okay," Frank said, glancing at Jamia even as he reached for Gerard again, just to make sure. But she was watching them with wide eyes, her lower lip caught between her teeth, and she nodded minutely.

That was all Frank needed to lean in and kiss him again, gripping his hair tight and holding him close. He hadn't been sure after the engagement had blown up what would happen. There had been moments on stage, of course, but that wasn't the same, not at all. It felt totally different to be kissing Gerard on his couch, in his home, with his wife right there.

When Gerard broke away with a gasp, Frank was ready to reassure him again, say whatever was necessary to make Gerard comfortable. But then he saw Jamia's hand high on Gerard's leg.

"You didn't think I was just going to watch, right?" she asked, a thread of real concern weaving into her voice. Frank shook his head. He started to stand up, getting ready to move over next to her, when Gerard leaned over and kissed her.

Frank stopped, watching them, watching his best friend kiss his wife, watching how she kissed him back—with intent. He could barely hear himself think, between the white noise in his mind and the sounds of nature still coming from his television. It was beautiful and confusing and hot as hell, and he couldn't take his eyes off them.

He watched as Jamia pressed closer to Gerard, her hands gripping his side, and he choked back a gasp when Gerard's hands moved up to her breasts, cradling them carefully for a moment before squeezing them harder, pushing them together. That was an urge he understood completely; her tits were fucking amazing.

There was nothing he could do but stare at them, recognizing how they moved together, every part of this familiar, except for how he was on the outside looking in. He kept waiting to feel the jealousy he thought should be lying beneath his shock, to feel the urge to break them apart and insert himself between them. But the only thing he really wanted was to be able to say, see, you get it now too. He wanted to shout it out to both of them. Suddenly he wasn't the only one who knew just how lucky he was.

Frank could see everything perfectly in the soft afternoon glow, the curtains open to the sun. It felt weird, somehow. This was something that should happen late at night, when he was drunk or high, when everything wasn't so crystal clear. It felt like too much, almost, to be able to see exactly how Gerard was kissing her, to watch her nails dig into his back when he thumbed over her nipple through her shirt.

He belatedly realized that this wasn't something he really wanted his neighbors to see. Frank cleared his throat. He was afraid saying something would break some sort of agreement, like this could happen so long as no one ever acknowledged exactly what was going on.

Too late to take it back. Gerard had already turned to him, his lips red, cheeks flushed.

Frank swallowed. "We should probably move somewhere else."

Jamia flashed him a quick look. "That is an excellent idea." She stood up fast, pulling Gerard up with her.

Frank followed them both up the stairs and into the bedroom, making sure that Mama was on the opposite side of the door when he closed it. He turned back and looked at Jamia and Gerard, at their nearly identical expressions of anticipation and uncertainty.

He didn't know how this was going to go. None of them did. Frank wasn't used to being the one to call the shots, with either of them, but if they needed someone to lead, he could do it.

Not letting himself stop to think, he walked up to Jamia and kissed her for the first time since this had all started downstairs, clutching her ass and pulling her in against him. He heard Gerard's quiet, "Fuck," to his right, and he broke away from Jamia to lean in and kiss Gerard, hand sneaking up to hold his face.

It seemed important to just keep it going, not hesitate, not think too hard about what might be next before they got there, so he started to get his pants undone while he was still kissing Gerard, only pulling back when he couldn't get them off his legs at the same time. He smiled what he hoped was a confident grin at them both as he pushed his pants all the way off and then got his shirt up over his head. Luckily Jamia never needed more of an invitation than that to get naked, her shirt and bra off in a second. He watched as she unzipped her skirt and let it fall to the floor.

Frank glanced over at Gerard, but Gerard's entire focus was on Jamia, eyes roving up and down her body. He moved closer to her and asked, tentatively, "Can I?"

There was no timidity in how he moved after she smiled and nodded though, his hands sliding up over her hips and cupping under her breasts as he kissed her again. They moved together towards the bed, Jamia up on her toes to kiss him, and then they fell back onto the bed together. Jamia broke away from Gerard's mouth for a moment, Gerard moving down her neck and landing at her tits, sucking a nipple into his mouth. She caught Frank's eye, giving him a look, but he just kept watching, hand stroking over his dick through his briefs. That told her all she needed to know, apparently, and she let her head drop back onto the pillows and gasped as Gerard moved over to her other breast, his hand moving slowly down her belly.

Frank walked closer to the bed, not getting on yet, just getting a better view from the side as Jamia arched up into Gerard's touch. She was getting impatient, he could see it, hand tightening in Gerard's hair, but he kept stroking his fingers lightly over her belly and then over her hips to her thighs, and then back again. Frank couldn't tell if he was being shy or just a tease, but he was pretty sure Jamia wasn't going to stand for it much longer.

Sure enough, she swore up at the ceiling and then said, "For fuck's sake, Gerard, get down there," pushing hard on his head until he moved down her body, kissing over her belly. His eyes were closed, but his fingers found the top of her panties and slowly began to pull them down her hips, lifting away from her so that she could get them off completely.

Gerard opened his eyes long enough to glance over at Frank. Frank's dick twitched when Jamia spread her legs further, her scent hitting him right in the face like it was him down there, not Gerard. He suddenly felt like Gerard was teasing him just as much as he was Jamia. He wanted to see this.

Frank didn't have to wait long, Gerard getting his arm under Jamia's thigh and holding her even further open before licking her pussy. Jamia groaned, and Frank followed a second later, watching as Gerard really got in there, his thumbs holding her open.

"Use your fingers, too, she really likes that," Frank got out, his voice tight like he couldn't get enough air. Gerard nodded before pressing two fingers inside, his mouth still busy at her clit. Frank looked up at Jamia, where she was palming her tits, fingers tight on her nipples, and he suddenly had to be up there with her. He climbed onto the bed and leaned down to kiss her, hands coming up to grab her tits.

She moaned into his mouth, and he could feel her trembling under his touch, her skin sweaty and damp with the effort.

When she broke away from his kiss, he moved in and bit right under her ear, hard, and she gasped, the sound getting caught in her throat. He pulled back and watched her expression as she turned her face into her pillow, tensing up as she came, her hand on Frank's arm opening and closing.

He was panting along with her, looking down her body as she writhed. When Gerard sat back up onto his knees, his fingers still inside Jamia, Frank could see how wet his face was from her. It was enough to make him pull away from her, getting his hands in Gerard's hair and kissing him, tasting her all over him. Frank kissed him wet and dirty, not letting up on Gerard, his own need too great at this point to be patient. His hands tugged on Gerard's shirt and pants, needing to see all of him, his grip lingering on Gerard's cock, hard and hot. He pulled back long enough to get Gerard's shirt up over his head, and that was enough.

"Come on," he muttered against Gerard's mouth, before kissing him again, dragging him up towards the head of the bed so that he was lying in between Frank and Jamia, his pants open but still on. Frank took care of that quickly, yanking them down along with his briefs, and then getting his face up against Gerard's dick.

Gerard was panting above him, his dick flushed red and so hard it lifted into his touch when Frank ran his fingers up the underside. He looked up at Jamia, who was propped up on her side, watching him.

He grinned up at her. "Wanna come down here?"

She nodded, but took her time rearranging herself, her movements slow and a little shaky so soon after coming. But she finally made her way down between Gerard's legs, leaning over to kiss Frank first, hand feeling up Frank's dick. He gasped and pushed forward into her hand, needing more, groping her tits and pulling hard on her nipples until she moved out of his reach. Frank watched as she smiled up at Gerard before leaning over and letting her breasts brush over his hard cock.

Frank shoved his own briefs down and started to stroke himself in earnest as he watched her tease him, bending down just far enough to lick over the head before pulling back so that she was barely touching him with her hands.

"Fuck, please," Gerard begged, pushing himself up onto his elbows before collapsing back down when she finally leaned over, tilted his dick up towards her and took the first couple of inches in.

This was like nothing Frank had ever seen before, what she looked like sucking cock from this angle, her cheeks hollowing out as she took him down further and then pulled off a little, resting the head of his cock on her tongue while she jerked him off. He didn't know what he wanted more, to get his own mouth on Gerard or to have her mouth on him, but he could be patient. He would wait.

He leaned over and got his mouth on the base of Gerard's dick, sucking up the side and trying not to get in Jamia's way. When she bent down further to lick at his balls, he moved up to the head of Gerard's cock, taking it in and sucking hard.

Frank felt the pulsing in Gerard's dick a moment before he heard him groan like it was ripped out of him, his come spilling out into Frank's mouth and over his hand. He closed his eyes and worked on swallowing as much as he could, stroking him through before finally pulling off.

When he sat up, Jamia was staring at his mouth, and he wiped at it when the back of his hand before licking over his lips. He was showing off and he liked it, liked being able to show her what he could do. What they could all do together.

Before he could do anything else, Gerard was suddenly pressed up behind him, hands on his cock. He leaned his head back on Gerard's shoulder, already so close to the edge, keeping his gaze on Jamia's face as Gerard jerked him off.

She shuffled up to both of them on her knees, resting her hands on Frank's side and kissing him hard, lips sliding slickly over his. He was whimpering into her mouth, but he couldn't stop it, couldn't stop snapping his hips forward and fucking in and out of Gerard's hands. It was too much, being surrounded by both of them at once, Jamia's fingers digging into his belly and Gerard's thumb flicking up just right under the head of his cock, brushing over the slit.

They both held him up when he finally broke, come splattering all over Jamia's tits and belly, his entire body tense and shaking. He couldn't do anything but ride it, open his mouth wide against Jamia's and pant his way through it, falling back against Gerard's chest. It was overwhelming, his entire life happening right here, the sensation and relief crashing over everything else.

Somehow they all managed to fall to the bed in a more or less comfortable pile, limbs entangled as they breathed together. Frank stared out the window into his backyard, watching a pair of birds fly from branch to branch as he tried to regain his ability to think. He turned back to them, looking over Gerard's face, at the deliberate blankness that seemed to be there.

Frank swallowed hard, moving closer against Gerard's side, drawing his arm across his body so that he could touch Jamia, too. He didn't know what to do about that look, about how careful Gerard seemed to be with him, now and for the last month at least. He didn't know what to say about that, or how he could even ask.

But maybe if Gerard didn't want to talk, Frank didn't need to either. He could show him instead. Him and Jamia.

He tried a smile, stretching and arching up against Gerard's body. "I need a fucking sandwich. Do we still have avocados, J?"

She nodded, leaning in to kiss Gerard's shoulder before wriggling up into a sitting position. Gerard followed her movement with his eyes, face a little surprised. "We should try to eat through the facon in the next couple of days, too."

Frank punched Gerard lightly in the stomach. "Come on, you would not believe how great she makes this." He flipped over and swung off the bed without waiting for a response, determined that even if Gerard didn't want to talk, things were still going to be fine.

//

The next morning Gerard was up before either of them, sitting on the couch with his bag next to his feet.

Frank raised an eyebrow at him. "Heading out?"

Gerard nodded, his movements a little twitchy, even for him. "Mikey's coming to pick me up, I'm gonna stay with him and Alicia for the next couple of days."

Jamia crossed to him first, giving him a kiss on the cheek and hugging him briefly. "They coming by soon?"

He nodded. "Should be here any minute."

Frank was already moving towards the kitchen. "I'll put more coffee on."

He went through the routine mechanically, letting his mind turn things over and over. Things may not be back to normal yet, but it was going to be okay. He looked up when Gerard came into the kitchen, lured in as always by the scent of fresh brew. Frank opened his mouth, about to say what he didn't even know, when the doorbell rang.

He smiled instead. "I'll make you a travel mug."

 

Projekt Revolution
August 28, 2007
Syracuse

 

It was the perfect time to do it. They had the whole day off, nothing on the schedule other than maybe a trip to that fair in the afternoon, and Frank really couldn't put it off any longer.

He still had to force himself to head over to Gerard's bus though, his feet heavy as lead as he climbed the steps and rapped on the door. When Toro opened it, he nearly fell back, just barely getting his feet under him in time as he landed on the asphalt.

"Sorry, just looking for Gee, I can come back—" he started to say, but Ray shook his head.

"Nah, he's inside. You go on in, I'm gonna talk a walk," Ray said, patting Frank on the shoulder as he passed him by. Frank appreciated the gesture but still wasn't sure he could fucking do it.

God, grow a pair, he told himself, and he climbed up into the bus.

"I thought you were leaving," Gerard said without looking up from his sketchpad.

Frank cleared his throat. "Uh, Ray did." Gerard snapped his head up, putting his marker down and staring at Frank. He couldn't let him speak, had to just keep going. "I'm here to fucking apologize, Gerard. That was really fucked up."

Gerard got up out of the chair when Frank spoke, pacing across the floor. "Yeah, it was."

"I apologized to Lindsey first," Frank added. "I know I was out of line."

Gerard nodded. "She told me."

They stood there, staring at each other, and Frank tried to think of how to say it, how to get it out, when Gerard beat him to it. "I just don't understand why you're not happy for me."

That was all it took to get Frank's blood up. "Yeah, I wonder why that is," Frank said, the sarcasm thick in his voice.

"I really don't know, Frank!" Gerard yelled back, his arms flying out to the side. "I've been trying for years, okay, trying to actually find it for myself, not just depend on whatever it was that you wanted to give me—"

"Hey, I gave you fucking everything," Frank tried to say, but Gerard kept talking right over him.

"—And it was really fucking nice that you wanted to share Jamia with me like some sort of fucked up pity fuck, but that's not what I want, okay," Gerard said, his voice cracking at the end.

"Hey, fuck you, I wasn't fucking sharing Jamia with you. She was there because she wanted to be. She makes her own fucking decisions. That was all her," Frank snapped, the anger and frustration that had been simmering just below the surface boiling over. He tamped it back down when Gerard held up his hands in apology, breathing through his nose. The last thing this conversation needed was his temper getting the better of him.

"Okay, Frank. But you can't blame me for thinking like that," Gerard said quietly, his voice defeated.

Yes I fucking can, Frank thought, but he kept that to himself. He shook his head. "I wasn't sharing anybody," he said slowly, trying to make sure that Gerard got this. "But if that's what it was, I would have been sharing you just as much."

Gerard looked at him like he was a moron. "Frank, she's your wife."

Frank smiled involuntarily. "Yeah, I fucking know, genius."

The expression on Gerard's face didn't shift at all. "Yeah, and that wasn't going to change at all, right? It's not like you were going to leave her for me."

"Fuck you, man, she's my fucking wife," Frank said, heat rising through his belly.

He flinched back when Gerard started yelling, "That's my fucking point, you asshole! She was it for you, I know that, and whatever fucking arrangement you had with her only went so far." His fists were clenched at his sides, eyes focused on anything but Frank's face. "And I fucking tried to find that for myself, but I couldn't. Until I met Lindsey."

"And what, she was just the substitution you were looking for?" Frank said, voice heavy with sarcasm and stomach churning.

"Hey, go fuck yourself, Lindsey's not a replacement for anyone," Gerard snapped, hand lashing out to shove at Frank's shoulder. Frank stared up at him, heart pounding, hands curling into fists at his side. It had been years since Frank had gotten into an actual fistfight with someone in his band, and part of his brain knew that punching Gerard in the face wouldn't help shit, but god did he want to.

Instead he deliberately flattened his hands out on his thighs and breathed deep, swallowing down the desire to point out that four weeks wasn't very long to be certain about shit. "I'm sorry. That was out of line," he said instead, catching Gerard's eyes for a second before Gerard looked away again and nodded.

Frank took another breath and tried to remember why he was here. He was going to tell the truth, right. Staring at the wall seemed like a safer place to look than Gerard's face. "Look. I know that things between you and Lindsey got serious fast. And I really am happy for you, okay? But I just." He stopped, swallowing hard before he made himself continue. "It's fucking hard for me, to watch you with someone else, when I still want you."

When he chanced taking a look at Gerard's face, he stepped back at what he saw there. "Frank, I don't know what you want from me."

"I want it all," Frank said helplessly, despair finally forcing the words out. "I want to have Jamia, and you, and maybe even Lindsey. I don't know how to do this, how to make it work, but if you want to know what I want, there it is." The silence from Gerard was almost more than he could take, so he kept talking to hide it. "And look, if that's not what you're up for, if that's not what it was for you, I can deal, okay? Having you in my life and not fucking up the band is way more important. I'm not going to fuck it all up just because I'm in love with you," he said, his entire body clenching up as he heard those words leave his mouth. He wanted to take them back immediately, wanted to find a hole and hide in it, wanted to give it all up if he could just feel like things would be okay again, for all of them.

"Frank," Gerard said finally, his voice coming out on a sigh. He ran his hands through his hair. "I don't know what to say."

"You don't need to say anything," Frank said, retreating already. He moved back towards the door. "I promise you I'll be cool now. Fucking swear it on my mother."

Gerard acted like he hadn't even heard him. "I just—I just need to think about it, okay? And talk to Lindsey." He stared at Frank. "Does Jamia know?"

Frank nodded. "She's always known. She's really—she's in this with me, you know?" he asked, desperately hoping Gerard didn't make him spell this out, too. When Gerard didn't answer, he nodded to himself. "I'm gonna go. I'll see you tomorrow." He made himself say it one more time. "I really am sorry."

The walk back to his bus was a blur, nothing making sense around him. He shut the door tight behind him, locking it up before hiding away with his dog. He could wait.

 

July 21, 2007
Jersey

 

Frank dragged the suitcase back out of the closet and hauled it up onto the bed, wondering why he had even bothered to put it away. At least he had actually managed to empty it and do all the laundry first; it didn't exactly smell spring fresh in there, but it wasn't as bad as it used to be.

He heard Mama padding into the room behind him, and he turned around and leaned over to pick her up. "Keeping me company?" he asked, kissing her on the head before dumping her onto the bed next to the suitcase. He rubbed over her face before heading to the bureau.

Briefs and tank tops and t-shirts and jeans; belts and socks and wrist bands and cargo shorts and five pairs of kicks. He frowned and looked down at the piles, trying to decide how many hoodies and jackets to cram in there too.

One of the best parts of this tour was no fucking costumes. Gerard had declared that this was just them now; the Black Parade wasn't playing this tour, only MCR. And Frank was fucking glad, both because he was fucking burnt out on that jacket and also because it wouldn't have felt right without Mikey. Matt was a good guy, and Frank knew he'd be fine, but there was no use pretending that it would just be like normal, like all the other concerts had been. This would be different.

Playing without Mikey would be hard to get used to, but Frank was looking forward to seeing what Gerard would be like now, out from the constraints of the costumes and the makeup. His stomach clenched a little. It'd been a weird year for Gerard, between the album and his relationship. Frank had felt like the guy he knew was always just out of reach somehow, a layer of artifice covering everything. At least until last week.

Last week had felt like Gerard was finally there with him again. Frank could finally see it, see him, and he was going to keep seeing that Gerard again. Frank would make sure of that.

He was frowning at four different black hoodies spread out over his bed with his arms crossed over his chest when Jamia came in. "How's it going?"

Frank frowned harder. "Three hoodies or four?"

She walked passed him and grabbed one of them off the bed, the one he was the iffiest on, and put it back in the closet, returning with his favorite worn in gray one he had somehow forgotten. "Here."

"You're a fucking genius," he said sincerely, and she snorted and kissed him quickly.

"I've watched you do this maybe a few times before." Jamia leaned up against the bed and reached out to scratch Mama's belly.

Frank pulled her back up against him. "You've got some packing of your own to do."

She nodded, drumming her open hands on his chest. "Not all of us feel the need to pack a day ahead of time."

"I just like to be ready, okay?" Frank had a system. Bad things happened if he neglected his system. Like that time he forgot to pack any underwear at all. The chafing had been un-fucking-real.

Jamia grinned up at him. "I know, baby. We'll be fine."

"Gonna be a good tour," he said, leaning in to kiss her, taking his time with it. "Linkin Park, The Bled, MSI—there's no bad here."

"Should be good crowds," Jamia agreed, hands drifting down to his ass, pulling him closer.

"And hot girls in plaid schoolgirl skirts," he added. He felt her take a quick breath in and he bent down to bite under her ear. "Plenty to like there."

"You know I'm a fan," she said, her voice sounding a little hesitant.

Frank told himself to just say it. "Do you ever regret not going for it?" he asked finally, voice serious.

She looked up at him, and he could tell she was surprised. "Not going for what?"

"You know." He put down the stack of t-shirts and walked over to her. "Making a move on her or whatever at the Jersey show all those years ago. Back before you were a married woman," he said, leaning in and kissing her neck, hands sliding up her hips.

She laughed, a little breathless already. "Like that really matters." He growled and pulled her closer to him, dick already getting hard. She shook her head. "Nah, it wasn't the right time."

"Could be the right time in a couple of days," he said, and she pulled away from him, searching for and finally catching his gaze.

"Frank—"

"I'm just saying," he continued. "It's not. I trust you," he said finally. "And I know I could handle it now. Not even just handle it—be totally fine, if it was someone you actually thought was worth it."

"I thought you said it would have always been fine," she said, pinching his side.

"Yeah, well I was a douche talking out of my ass and hoping I was right," he said honestly. "But now I'm pretty sure I know, okay? So just. If that's what you want this summer, go for it." He grinned, leaned over to bite her ear. "Although I wouldn't mind watching."

She snorted, reaching around and grabbing his ass, hauling him closer. "For all I know she's turned into a cunt in the last four years, so let's meet her again before we plan anything, okay?"

"Deal," he said, hands finding the zipper on her jeans and then pushing them down and off her hips. Packing could wait.

 

Projekt Revolution
August 29, 2007
Holmdel, NJ

 

When Frank woke up the next morning, he couldn't tell if he was actually getting sick or if the heaviness in his lungs was just dread. He dragged himself out of bed anyway, determined to at least face the day like a man.

He found Jamia curled up on the couch reading a book, Mama snuggled up next to her. He sat down on the other side of her, settling his arm around her shoulder and kissing her cheek.

"Morning," she said, turning another page.

"Hi," he replied, already trying to figure out what to say. "I think it's gonna be okay," he settled on finally.

At that she shut the book, one finger between the pages keeping her place. "Is that what you actually think, or what you're hoping for?"

"More like the second," he admitted. "But I've got to at least try to believe that."

She was silent for a moment, and then she turned towards him, resting her head on his shoulder. "I'm pretty sure you're right, just from what Lindsey's said."

"What did she say?" he asked, before backtracking a little. "I mean, if you can tell me." He really fucking hoped she could.

Jamia hummed against his arm, and he hugged her closer. "Did you know that Gerard never told either of his girlfriends before Lindsey about you? At all?"

He nodded. "I didn't, like, know absolutely, but I sort of guessed as much."

She clicked her tongue in her mouth. "Yeah, well, apparently Gerard's been nominating himself for the World's Shittiest Boyfriend for years as a result." Frank only had a moment to feel like utter crap about that before Jamia continued. "So when he met Lindsey, he was pretty much determined to come clean and not do it again."

Do me again, Frank thought, and from Jamia's look she knew what he was thinking. "So no more secrets, huh."

She nodded. "Did Lindsey tell you about any of her past relationships?"

He really wasn't sure where the fuck this was going. "No?"

"Yeah, I didn't think so." Jamia hesitated for a moment. "She told Gerard that she'd done open relationships before, and that if he wanted that, she would be okay with it."

"Wait, what?" Frank didn't have any time at all to process that before Jamia kept going.

"Yeah, and she said that she didn't need to be in one, to be happy, but that it had worked for her in the past. Gerard didn't seem to think that was a good idea."

"I can see why," Frank said, not at all surprised that Gerard didn't want Lindsey seeing anyone else, especially when it was so new.

"Because Gerard didn't think he could do it without fucking it up," Jamia continued as if Frank hadn't said a word. "Not because he didn't want her to be with anyone else."

There was something about the way that she said it that made Frank sit up and pay attention, and he turned his head to look at her more closely. She was blushing, her eyes focused on her hand on his thigh. "J, it's totally fine if the answer is yes, you know that, but did something happen between the two of you?

Jamia was silent for a moment before she said, "No, but we talked about it."

Frank's head was buzzing with it, with the idea of all of this happening around him, and then she blew his mind even more when she added, "We talked about you, and Gerard too. All four of us."

That was—that was so far beyond what he could even attempt to comprehend he didn't know what to do with it. It wasn't until he'd talked with Gerard last night that he really got how fucking selfish he had been, wanting Jamia and Gerard all to himself, not wanting Gee to have anything more than that, nothing real, nothing he had to compete with. He realized with a burst of self-loathing that he hadn't actually minded Gerard being with Lindsey until it became clear that he couldn't compete, that he and Jamia would never win him away.

It had never occurred to him that maybe Gerard wasn't something he'd have to steal.

He was startled out of his moment of realization when Jamia nudged him. Swallowing hard, he looked down at her again. "Would that be something you'd want?"

She bit her lip and didn't answer right away. When she finally did, her voice was soft. "I think it could be. If it was right for the rest of us, too."

Frank closed his eyes. "I think if it was actually an option, I'd want it," he admitted. He forced himself to look at her. "I just don't know if that's what Gerard would want, after everything."

She leaned in for a kiss. "Give him some space."

He nodded. Frank would give him all the time and space in the world.

//

There was only one other person he could talk to, and probably needed to. He didn't know exactly what there was left to say to Lindsey, but the last few days had made it clear that there was always more.

It was already late in the day, MSI's set most of the way over at this point. Frank headed over to their bus and waited there, hoping she wouldn't be coming back with Gerard.

His luck lasted that long, at least. She came strolling up to him alone, face flushed and a little sweaty from the set and the heat.

He waved and gave her a sheepish smile. "I come in peace."

She grinned in response, standing a couple of feet away. "Good to know."

Pushing himself up from the asphalt, he squinted as he looked to his right. "You up for taking a walk?"

Lindsey looked thoughtful. Frank hoped that this had been the right decision. "Yeah, I think I am."

They fell into step with each other, avoiding the crowds of techs and other crew around by silent agreement. Frank waited to know what the right thing to say would be, but before he could come up with anything, Lindsey spoke.

"You really did a number on him."

Frank tried to just process that, tried to push down the guilt that rose immediately from his gut. "I know. I didn't mean to." He took a deep breath. "I did a number on myself, too."

Her smile was sympathetic. "Yeah, I know."

They continued walking, the late summer sun still bright in their eyes. The uncertainty over what he wanted to say was gone; now he needed to figure out if he could actually get it out.

It was now or never. "Jamia told me you have some experience with this stuff." He glanced over at her and watched her nod slowly. "I don't really know what we're doing, or how this could work, or if there's something that could work at all. But if we're going to try, I don't think it can just be about Gerard."

She shook her head. "It wouldn't be." Lindsey held his gaze for a moment, and Frank allowed himself to think about it, to think about her. He still fantasized about other women—he was married, not dead—but it was never with any intent, never with any suggestion, even in his own mind, that it could be real. It was scary and a little overwhelming to do so now.

From her expression Frank was pretty sure she knew what he was thinking about, and he smiled finally. "Yeah, I can see that." He kicked some loose gravel below his feet, shoved his hands deep in his pockets. "I think it could be good."

"Yeah?" she asked, coming to a stop next to him.

He looked up at her face, her dark eyes and pale skin set off by the pigtails and bright red lips. His heart started to beat faster. "Guess we'll see."

//

Frank made it to call with time to spare for once, and when he saw Ray and Bob over by the food display, he squared his shoulders and did what he should have done two days ago.

"So uh, listen," he said, with no preamble. "I'm really sorry that you guys saw any of that, and I just want to let you know that it won't be an issue again."

They were both silent for a moment, and then Bob shrugged and went back to the Doritos. Ray kept looking at him.

"I swear we'll be fine," Frank added when Ray still didn't speak.

That seemed to snap Ray out of it. "Oh, I know, Frank. You guys would never fuck up the band," Ray said confidently.

"That's right," Frank said, with more certainty than he strictly felt at the moment.

"But yeah, if you could keep the drunken confessions to a minimum, that would be great."

Frank closed his eyes, his cheeks heating up at the remark. "I'll do my best."

His eyes snapped open when Ray called out, "Hey, Gee!" Frank looked over at him and then quickly glanced away. They were going to be normal. Sure.

It felt like the furthest thing from normal in that green room, all tension and avoidance yet again. Even the walk out onto the stage felt weird, and Frank wondered how much of a liar he was actually going to be, whether the band really was fucked, and tonight would just be the beginning of the end. Of course this would happen the night Mikey was back where he belonged.

But before he could get too maudlin, the air around him shifted, and he looked over at Gerard. He was staring back at him, his focus on Frank as clear as day, and that was enough. It was enough to make him move with it, playing up into Gerard's orbit before spinning back out again.

There was no moment when Gerard wasn't chasing him back, though. For the first time in months Frank felt like he actually knew what they were doing, what the game was, and it was terrifying and thrilling and completely foreign all at once. There wasn't much more that he could do without words to fix this, but he leaned on Gerard, pressing his face against Gerard's chest, his throat getting tight when Gerard gripped his hair firmly.

He could barely see what he was doing, the crowd a blur out in front of him, nothing on his radar but Gerard and his energy. He needed to get off stage; he needed to keep doing this for the rest of time. There was nothing he could do to contain his excitement, his fears and terror and joy threatening to burst through.

By the time they got off stage Frank felt like he was going to die if he didn't get Gerard alone, but luckily for him Gerard seemed to be on the same wavelength. One moment they were walking down the hallway together, the next they were pressed up against each other in a closet, a mop bucket awkward against Frank's feet and legs.

He didn't care. He didn't care about anything other than the way Gerard was kissing him, the feel of his mouth hot and wet up against his own. He got his hands in Gerard's hair and pulled him closer, needing him right there with him for it all.

They kissed and kissed and kissed, Frank losing track of the time, where they were, what else they might need to do right now. But finally Gerard pulled away, holding Frank at arm's length and staring at his face.

"I want it, too," Gerard said, his voice already hoarse. "But it scares the fucking shit out of me."

"Me too, Gerard," Frank got out, his hands gripping Gerard hard. "I don't know what the fuck we're doing."

Gerard grinned at him suddenly, the smile taking over his face. "Well, maybe we can figure it out." He leaned in and kissed Frank again, his hands finding Frank's zipper.

Frank had been half hard since they left the stage, and the feel of Gerard's hands brushing against his skin got him fully hard in a second. He could barely focus enough to get his hands down Gerard's pants at the same time, groaning into his mouth at the feel of his cock heavy and hot against his fingers.

It had only been a month since the last time he'd touched Gerard like this, but it felt much longer than that. They were pressed together so tight there was barely enough room to move, but Frank didn't care. It was enough to have the feel of Gerard's hands on him again, to taste him, the sound of him moaning loud in his ears.

It wasn't long before Gerard came in his hands, his groans muffled by Frank's mouth. A wave of satisfaction flooded through Frank at the feeling of Gerard losing it because of him. He didn't want to stop stroking Gerard, thumb flicking over the head of his cock. Gerard finally pushed him up hard against the door, head on Frank's shoulder as he stared down at his hand working over Frank's cock.

He was pinned there by Gerard's body, his hands holding onto Gerard's back as he pushed his hips up into Gerard's hands. Frank felt the orgasm build from far off, something like relief and joy coursing through his veins as Gerard stroked him. Gerard was mumbling something against his shoulder but he couldn't understand it, couldn't make out the words through the rush in his head as he came, his entire body shaking.

They stood there together for a moment, the sounds of their breathing filling the room. Finally Gerard pulled away just enough to kiss Frank again, Gerard's lips soft and almost tentative against him. Frank kissed him back as firmly as he could, projecting as much certainty as he could possibly fake.

When they walked out of the storage room, the first thing Frank saw was Lindsey and Jamia standing next to each other down the hall. They were only talking, Lindsey's hands animated as she made a point, but something in their body language made it completely obvious where this was going to go.

He glanced over at Gerard, and then he placed his hand at Gerard's lower back and pushed him forward towards them.

Frank didn't know exactly what to say, but luckily that never seemed to be a problem for Gerard. "You guys ready to head back to the bus?"

Jamia and Lindsey looked at each other, then back at them. Frank finally caught up and added, "Our bus should have the most space." He didn't say and privacy, but his meaning seemed to come through loud and clear.

Jamia smiled at him and Gerard. "About time we had guests."

//

They stumbled onto the bus together, one after another. Frank followed Jamia and Lindsey inside, stopping short when he saw Jamia pull Lindsey close and kiss her. He stared for a moment, not moving until he felt Gerard's hand curl around his own.

He glanced over at Gerard, his stomach nervous and mouth suddenly dry. "Should we talk about this first?" he got out, his voice loud in the silence. Lindsey and Jamia broke apart and looked over at him. Their mouths were wet, their cheeks flushed. Frank swallowed hard. "Or, I mean, do you guys just want to be alone for a bit?"

Lindsey looked back at Jamia. "Talking's not a bad plan," she said, pulling away from Jamia and moving towards Gerard.

Frank let go of Gerard's hand and shifted over near Jamia. He gave into the desire and leaned down to kiss her quickly before focusing on Gerard and Lindsey again.

He smiled hesitantly at them, unsure of whether he was supposed to start, and if so, what he even could say.

Gerard answered that question by leading off with a bomb. "We're getting married," Gerard said, hand tightly closed around Lindsey's. "Last day of the tour. I thought you should know that before we discuss anything else." His eyes darted away from Frank's.

Frank let that hit him, made himself sit with it for a moment and not just storm out. That wouldn't help anything. He looked at Jamia and thought about what it had been like to marry her last winter, to look at that piece of paper and the new ring on his finger. It shouldn't have changed anything—she had already been the woman he would spend the rest of his life with for years in his mind—but it had.

He swallowed hard and made himself look at them. "I'm really happy for you both," Frank said, proud that his voice was steady, at least.

Apparently that wasn't quite convincing enough. Gerard frowned. "Frank—"

He put up a hand to stop him. "No, dude, I mean it. That's fucking great." When he looked over at Jamia, she was already watching him. He laughed suddenly. "I mean, it's pretty fucking quick, but you never do things by half, Gee."

Gerard still looked like he waiting for Frank to yell when Lindsey spoke up. "You'd know that better than anyone, Frank."

"I know," Frank admitted. "I do know it. And I'm not much different." He made himself take a deep breath and continue. "Once I'm in, I'm all in. I don't know how to do casual. That can't be what it is, for any of us."

The look on Gerard's face terrified him. He looked worried, and not at all convinced. "I don't think I can give myself to all of you all the time," he said slowly. "I don't think I know how."

"That's not what Frank means, I don't think," Jamia answered, looking at Frank for confirmation. "It can't be about being equal, if it's going to work."

"It never will be equal," Lindsey said suddenly.

Gerard turned to her immediately. "No, Linds, I swear—"

She shook her head at him and cut him off. "I don't mean that in a bad way. I just mean that we're all coming into this at different places with each other, and we can't pretend otherwise." She looked at each of them in turn. "I don't want to, anyway."

Frank's heart was beating hard in his chest, and he moved towards Lindsey. "So let's not even try," he said simply, before leaning in and kissing her on the lips.

Their second kiss was entirely different than their first. For one thing, Frank knew it was coming, but more importantly, everyone who mattered was there to see it, too. He pulled away reluctantly, going against his desire to push for more right away. "We're still very new," he said finally.

She laughed before stepping back. "And that's okay, too."

Frank looked at all of them and tried to picture it, tried to imagine how it could work, what it would feel like. His eyes stayed on Gerard. "I don't think this can work if we try to pretend that our pasts don't matter. And I'm not very good at pretending, anyway," he said, grinning a little. The butterflies were back in his stomach, but it felt more like anticipation than fear now.

Frank was sick of trying to control his reactions. "Let's head to the back, okay?"

He didn't wait for any of them to answer, just grabbing both Gerard and Lindsey by the hand and pulling them back. He let Jamia herd Mama out of the back room and collapsed back onto the bed, tugging them down on either side of him. He looked over at Gerard, and then back at Lindsey

The impulse to overthink things threatened to paralyze him, as he realized he had no idea what would follow. He wished he had a beer or seven, even though that would be an unfair advantage over Gerard, at least. The idea of shutting off a little bit of his brain was definitely appealing, though.

Jamia stepped into the room and shut the flimsy door behind her, taking the step and a half to the bed. This, at least, felt familiar to him, and he sat up and grabbed her hands. She stepped between his open legs and leaned down to kiss him before sliding up next to Lindsey.

"Let's just play it by ear, okay?" Jamia said to them all. She leaned in to kiss Lindsey before any of them could answer.

They were beautiful together, all dark hair and pale skin, hands pushing up skirts and ghosting over breasts. Frank felt Gerard's arm slip around his waist and then pull him back against Gerard's chest, his breath heavy in Frank's ear. "Look at them," he breathed.

Frank just nodded and watched, his hand sliding over Gerard's and squeezing. He was content to watch for the moment, his brain still trying to catch up with everything that was happening in front of him, but he could feel Gerard getting hard against his ass. He squeezed Gerard's hand harder and pushed his hips back.

Lindsey and Jamia rolled over towards them and then broke apart for a moment to pull their shirts up and off. Once Lindsey was free of her shirt, she leaned over and kissed Gerard quickly before kissing Frank again. "Are you going to spend all your time just staring?" she asked.

Frank shook his head when she twisted her arms up behind her and unhooked her bra, her breasts coming free. They were just as gorgeous as he'd imagined they'd be, full and high, her pale skin flushed. Gerard's arm tightened around him, hips thrusting forward against Frank.

Jamia got up onto her knees and tackled Lindsey back down to the bed, hands drifting up over her tits. "Too late," she said cheerfully to Frank before leaning down and sucking on Lindsey's nipple.

He felt more than heard Gerard's answering groan as he pulled Frank around and kissed him, his tongue thrusting into Frank's mouth. Frank kissed him back, hands gripping Gerard's hair hard as the urgency began to grow for him. He wanted to keep watching his wife and Lindsey but he couldn't tear himself away from Gerard, couldn't stop himself from thrusting back against Gerard, from pushing up against Gerard's hand tight on his ass. He suddenly felt like there wasn't enough time, not tonight or on this tour or ever for all that he wanted to do, that he was actually allowed to do.

But they had the time. He didn't have to just take what he could get.

Frank finally pulled away from Gerard when he heard Jamia say, "Haven't done this in a while, so we'll see how this goes." He rolled over in time to see Jamia moving down Lindsey's body, her hands pushing up Lindsey's skirt as Lindsey wriggled her panties down and off her legs.

His dick swelled up painfully against the zipper of his jeans when Jamia began to eat her out, face held against Lindsey's pussy by Lindsey's hand in her hair. Gerard whispered, "Jesus Christ," against his ear and Frank could only nod, eyes moving back and forth between Lindsey's face and her body moving with Jamia.

"Oh, fuck, that's right," Lindsey said, her voice already high and breathy. Gerard's hand cupped Frank through his jeans, the pressure almost painful.

"She's really close already, holy fuck," Gerard said, and both Lindsey and Jamia moaned in response. Frank couldn't take his eyes off of Jamia's hand down between her own legs, her entire arm moving with the effort of stroking herself off while eating Lindsey out.

He was suddenly desperate for Gerard's hand on him without anything between them, and he pushed Gerard back just long enough to get his jeans and briefs down, leaving Gerard to manage his own. Gerard kissed the back of his neck before getting his hand back on Frank's dick. His hard cock slid against Frank's ass while he jerked Frank off, hips thrusting forward.

The air was suddenly stuffy and overheated, the smell of sex overwhelming. Frank almost couldn't focus, his entire body overstimulated by Gerard's touch and what was happening in front of him. Lindsey was writhing against the bed linens, her head turned and face pressed up hard against the pillow. Her mouth was open wide as she panted, her breasts heaving with each breath, skin slick with sweat.

He could see it when she came, the way her entire body started to shudder at once, her stomach contracting as she curled up into it. Frank moaned with her, Gerard's hand stilling on his cock as they watched her together. When she finally collapsed back against the mattress Jamia pulled herself up next to her again, kissing her wetly as Lindsey got her hands on Jamia's body.

Frank pushed back against Gerard mindlessly, needing it, needing more, and Gerard didn't take much prompting. His dick was leaking all over Frank's ass, the slide of it slick and easy over Frank's skin, and Frank knew he was close. He wrapped his own hand around Gerard's and started to stroke himself harder, matching the pace of Gerard's hips against him. It was too much, he couldn't hold himself back any longer. He came with a strangled yell, dick still pulsing when Gerard pulled his hand out from under his. Frank was still panting, trying to catch his breath as Gerard rutted against him, swearing in his ear as he chased it and finally came, his come wet and hot on Frank's lower back.

Frank was fucking wrung out, his body exhausted and sated. He struggled to keep his eyes open, staring across the bed at where Jamia and Lindsey were curled up together, their curves gorgeous and supple. He reached out a hand to trace down the line of Lindsey's side, his touch light and questioning. She smiled at him, her eyes flicking up to Gerard behind him.

Frank was still in most of his clothes. He was filthy from the show and covered in come.

He had never been so happy.

//

When he woke up the next morning, he was naked in his bed, and alone.

He sat up slowly, still so tired all the way into his bones, but the sounds from the front lounge were enough to get him out of bed.

A pair of briefs were lying on the ground, and he picked them up and pulled them on without bothering to check if they were his. He shuffled out into lounge, stopping to pet Mama on the way.

"Morning, Frank," Jamia said casually. She pushed a cup of coffee towards him. He took it automatically, taking a sip before trying to talk.

"Thanks," he said eventually. Frank sat down on the couch next to Lindsey. She gave him a smile and then a kiss on his cheek before focusing back on her own coffee.

He glanced over at Gerard. He saw himself in the expression on Gerard's face, the hope and disbelief and, underneath it all, the sheer wonder.

Frank smiled.

Epilogue

Frank never would have thought life could get more complicated than a relationship that sometimes felt like five different ones all tied together, with homes on both coasts, seven careers among the four of them, and a whole pile of dogs.

But that was before they added babies to the mix.

Fuck easy. Frank would take complicated any day.

 

The end.