Frank Iero is an Elf. Not like a genetic, Lothlórien tall blond Elf, but an I-needed-a-fucking-job-and-out-of-my-fucking-mom’s-house career Elf.
It’s not a totally crappy job. Okay, so, he works in the Arctic Circle and it’s cold as fucking fuck, and the holiday music in the stores and locker room doesn’t just play September to December 24th like everywhere else, so it’s kind of like living inside a festive ear-worm all the time, but he’s making toys for kids, or reading their letters and lists and logging their requests in the Naughty Nice database, so it’s…It’s alright.
One of the major Elf recruitment areas is Jersey, so a lot of the accents around work sound like home - he’s got at least four cousins working up here and you can get Boylan’s Apple Cider and Birch Beer at the store (year fucking round, like the fizzy apple goodness makes up for the fact that they don’t carry Orange Cream soda. Frank keeps filling in Consumer Satisfaction surveys, but still no Orange Cream. He’s beginning to think it’s personal).
His mom ships him up crates of soda sometimes, when she can afford it, and he only feels a little guilty that the shipping label says “Issen Logging Company” on it… It’s not his fault, it’s not like they’re allowed to talk about their jobs to the people back home, mostly, anyway – the Joulupukki Company insists that all details of their day-to-day tasks are kept confidential so that the children of the world don’t all suddenly turn up and mob them – but it’s his mom (and yeah, she’d totally tell everyone in the fucking world, but still, he’s pretty sure that lying to his mom, even by omission, is some kind of major sin).
Frank is allowed to talk about the guys he works with (at least a little bit), and he can tell her about what he does with the Labor Union (he has to, like, redact details, but people are people anywhere, and problems are problems and other people’s problems are endlessly fascinating so he’s usually got plenty to gossip about). He’s pretty sure that he’s bored his Mom half to death, telling her all about the cabin he lives in (it’s fucking sweet. Cousin Lou had hooked him up with it when he arrived – it had belonged to one of the older guys, who’d been there for, like, 9 billion years, and it was kind of run down, but it’s fucking palatial compared to the newer cabins and Frank’s never been afraid of a bit of hard work and construction).
He’s made some good connections through his Union job, too. Their Union is affiliated with the ILA (just because the finished products go out by Sleigh doesn’t mean that the raw materials don’t arrive by ship) and that means he gets a fuckton of discounts on shit. (They may be in the ass end of nowhere, but everyone ships to ILA affiliate locations, because… Frank’s sure no one’s doing anything shady now but it doesn’t mean that someone didn’t threaten someone else at some point in the past and he’s definitely not going to complain about that. It is amazing what you can buy on the internet.)
It’s cool, they’re fucking Elves. The Boss doesn’t hire just anyone to be an Elf, so he doesn’t have to deal with any dicks, and it’s hardly like the Big Boss is a corporate asshole or anything: being a Union Representative here is an easy fucking ride, and it just adds a sprinkle of interest to his day job.
Strike that. Being a Union Representative here is normally an easy fucking ride. Frank takes another look at the file he’s been given: Case 45563, Gerard Way, Serious Misconduct. Frank’s been asked to be the Union Representative for the first fucking case of an Elf who’s in danger of being fired.
Frank needs a fucking drink.
Gerard, it turns out, is from one of the, like, original Elfing families – dating right back to when they painted shit by hand and carved dolls from bits of tree. Gerard’s been working for the company since he was a kid, coming up to stay with his grandparents for the long summer break and earning money for the next school year packing shit in boxes or attaching delivery labels. The file Frank has records ten years of.. okay, not entirely exemplary service – teenage Gerard seems to have had issues with both getting out of bed and getting into the shower – but no, like, major problems, and Gerard seems to be pretty popular with his team leads and shit. He’s got a fuckton of commendations for excellent art work and working to tight deadlines. There are a couple of notes about work needing redone, but nothing major until a few months ago when Gerard cast a whole lot of toy soldiers in pink plastic, not green, and then again a few weeks later when he made My Sparkle Unicorn in camo green instead of purple glitter. Both of those incidents seem to have been chalked up to simple mistakes, but the latest incident, the one that’s led to a full on Sapient Resources investigation and Frank getting involved, is fucking bizarre. A whole run of My First Baby Amy with realistic internal organs as well as real crying action. Apparently one of the quality control Elves had taken one as a random sample and realized that something was wrong when he burst the doll’s FUCKING APPENDIX.
Frank gets a Post-It and writes WTF was dude doing to the doll to burst its appendix?! and sticks it in the file. He sends Gerard a letter through the chimney mail to set up an appointment and rolls out his shoulders – Gerard’s been doing some weird fucking shit, sure, but he’s also been a loyal employee for years and it’s Frank’s job to make sure that the company doesn’t set a precedent of firing loyal, time-served employees because of, like, one incident. He just needs to explain the one incident and to do that he needs to hope like fuck that Gerard has a great fucking reason for making anatomically correct dolls.
It takes Gerard six fucking days to respond to Frank (six fucking days and another four chimney mails) and then he doesn’t respond like a normal person, replying to the mail and setting up an appointment, he turns up at Frank’s home.
Actually, he’s dragged to Frank’s home by a lanky dude that Frank’s seen around the mail-room and the union meetings and more or less anywhere there’s a coffee pot. The lanky dude bangs on Frank’s front door until Frank comes through from where he’s been trying to replace the taps on the kitchen sink, and then Lanky Dude pushes the rumpled, paint covered vampire dude he’s holding by the wrist forward until Vampire Dude is trapped between Lanky Dude and Frank’s door. Frank looks at them warily through the bubbled glass of his front door… neither Lanky Dude nor Vampire Dude are, like big and it’s fucking freezing outside and they’re both in fucking band shirts… and really it’s the combination of goose pimples he can fucking see through the glass and the Misfits and Bouncing Souls shirts that decides Frank. No one wanting to do harm would dress like that.
Frank opens the door.
Lanky Dude shoves Vampire Dude in the back, and he stumbles forwards into Frank. “Gee, this is Frank, the nice man who’s been trying to help you for a week. Frank, this is my idiot brother, Gerard.”
Lanky Dude turns and leaves, Vamp…Gerard, Lanky Dude’s brother apparently, is half collapsed into Frank’s arms, and he smells of hair dye and cigarettes.
It takes a moment for Gerard to start pulling himself back off of Frank, it’s like he doesn’t quite believe that his brother actually just did that. When he’s eventually upright again, Frank looks at him, raises an eyebrow and waits.
Gerard stares at him and runs his hand through his already messy black hair, pulling it into his face. He looks like a teenager, and Frank knows for a fact that Gerard is older than him. He’d heard rumors that the original elfing families had a little bit of, like, actual mythic elf blood in them, but looking at Gerard’s face is the first time he’s ever actually believed it.
“Ummm.” Gerard bites his lip.
It is physically painful to watch someone being as socially awkward as Gerard is currently being and Frank is not an actual fucking monster. “Hi.” He says, sticking out his hand for Gerard to shake. “I’m Frank Iero, your Labor Union representative.”
“Ummm. Hi?” Gerard looks at Frank’s hand for a moment, like he’s not quite sure what he’s supposed to do, but then he shakes it with a surprisingly firm grip. “Ummm. Sorry…. About the… umm, not making an appointment thing. I, like, meant to but then I needed some, like, texture and I used your mail by accident and I didn’t realize until I couldn’t find your name and then that seemed, like so totally dumb artist and I couldn’t call the Union number again and Mikey wouldn’t, and then you sent another mail and it had already been, like four days and I figured you’d think I was, like super rude and not want to help me and Mikey said you wouldn’t, but he doesn’t know everything, and then I didn’t know what to do and then Mikey said we were going to Ray’s and this was a shortcut and….” Gerard continues to shake Frank’s hand as he babbles and he looks so earnest that Frank is actually a little charmed.
Frank squeezes Gerard’s hand a little bit and then disengages from the handshake. “That’s okay man. Uhh, I don’t usually do this at home, but I’ve got a pot of coffee on that I haven’t had any of yet, so…” Frank nods back towards the kitchen. “Come on, I’ll get the basics down from you, get the ball rolling, okay?”
“Coffee?” Gerard smiles. It’s a nice smile.
“Yeah, you want some?”
Frank laughs at how enthusiastic Gerard sounds and gestures for him to follow Frank inside.
Gerard is very focused on the coffee, at least until he’s on his second mug and Frank’s got all the paperwork set up on his kitchen table, which is… Frank’s going to go with it being useful, rather than disturbing.
“So.” Frank says once he’s all set up. Gerard jumps and Frank can’t help laughing. “I didn’t think my coffee was that good.”
Gerard giggles and goes a little pink. “Mikey wouldn’t let me have any at home. I think he hid it so I’d have to come out.”
“Mikey is your brother, right? Who brought you here?”
“Yeah. He moved up after. Uh. He moved here a few months ago – he’d been coming up all the time when he was a kid, like me, but I moved up full time when I got clean and he was at school, and then Eyeball, so he didn’t come up until uhh. He didn’t want me to live on my own. He didn’t think it would be good for me.”
“Why didn’t he think it would be good for you?” Frank asks gently. The timescales match up to the start of Gerard’s acting out.
“I uh. Before, back home. Uh. When Dad left I. Uh. We always drank – like, socially and shit, but I just. It was hard, you know? And I… I’m not good at dealing, really, like, if shit’s my fault, like, Dad got fucked off that I didn’t get a job, that I wanted to go to Art School, so he left and then I nearly dropped out anyway so what was the fucking point…” Gerard sighs. “I cleaned up though. I stopped drinking. Like, Elena said I couldn’t drink if I was living in her house, and I haven’t.” Gerard reaches out and puts his hand on Frank’s arm, “I promised her, I haven’t, I wouldn’t, even if Mikey hadn’t come when…”
Frank pats Gerard’s hand. There’s more to this story, something that Gerard’s dancing around. “If Mikey hadn’t come when what, Gerard?”
Gerard won’t look at Frank, he starts fidgeting with his coffee mug. “When Elena died.” He practically whispers.
“Oh.” Frank squeezes Gerard’s fingers. “I’m so sorry for your loss.”
Gerard nods and Frank can see him gather himself. He raises his head. “I carried on her work though, I stayed sober and I carried on her work.”
Gerard nods, proudly. “Breaking down institutional Gender Essentialism.”
“Essentialism. You know Frankie.”
Frankie?! Frank opens his mouth to object to the nickname, but Gerard makes him jump by taking his hand back from where Frank’s practically been holding it.
“Like, baby dolls for girls and soldiers for boys and pink and fucking blue everywhere.” Gerard is gesticulating broadly, and Frank is concerned for his coffee cup. “Like, did you know that pink was a boy color until, like, the 1920s? It’s so dumb. Why do we make kids choose their favorite color based on their genitalia?”
“Exactly. It’s just stupid. Elena used to, like, fight with the old man, get him to change shit up sometimes, but I’m not as important as she was, and I can’t get my supervisors to listen to me, let alone the boss. I tried, you know, I filled in the comment cards and sent all the chimney mail and I kept trying out to join the design team…” Gerard drops his hands into his lap. “They said I’m not good enough for that yet and I guess I’ll never be good enough now.”
“Hey.” Frank chides. “You don’t know that – you’re in line for some disciplinary action, sure, but this isn’t an at-will territory and you’ve not been fired yet. You’re like, a success story…”
“I made them with livers.” Gerard folds into himself and hides behind his hair.
“Yeah, but you’re an ex-addict who stayed clean, your family have worked here forever…”
“Just, like my grandma and her dad and stuff, Mom and dad don’t like the cold.”
Frank does some mental math. “Elena was your grandma, right?”
“And you guys were close?”
“Okay. I think I can help you. But I have to ask you some questions, about what you did and about what Elena did as well. I think there’s a tradition you’re kinda following, like, a precedent.”
Gerard, it turns out, can really fucking talk. Frank’s taken thirteen pages of notes before his hand cramps up and he can’t write any more down – it’s all really useful stuff and he’s pretty sure that Gerard’s job is safe – but fuck, it’s nearly three in the morning and he has to get up at six.
Frank yawns and stretches, and his shoulder cracks so loudly that Gerard jumps.
“Oh! Fuck, sorry! I’ve been babbling, like, you’re just so easy to talk to and no one wants to know about any of this stuff – even Mikey doesn’t pretend anymore and he knows how important it is, but you, shit, you look tired. I. Sorry.” Gerard actually sits on his hands, as if he can stop himself talking by stopping his gesticulating.
“No, it’s cool, it’s all good stuff, you know – making Baby Dolls that can teach about anatomy as well as care-giving is a really cool idea and, like, all the stuff that your grandma did with the girls construction toys and the blue kitchen toys – all the stuff that she got the Boss to agree to as a good idea – it all has the same purpose and, uh, I think they were really just worried about the internal organ stuff in case you’d suddenly become a psychopath or something – I mean, the idea needs, some, like finessing, but I don’t think they’ll fire you once everything is explained. I’m going to ask for a full formal disciplinary panel because the Boss has to sit in on those.” Frank yawns. “But first I’m going to go to bed for a couple of hours. You’re welcome to the couch if you want?”
Frank’s couch is the most comfortable thing in his whole cabin, it’s big and soft and covered in pillows and blankets because Frank sometimes likes to nest when it’s cold and he’s too awake to go to sleep and too tired to do anything. Frank’s slept on it more than once himself, and it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to get Gerard situated and all tucked in.
“Snug as a bug.” Gerard mutters and Frank laughs.
“Yeah. Sleep well Gerard – just pull the front door closed behind you in the morning when you go, okay?”
Gerard makes a disgruntled noise. “But your stuff!”
“I’m pretty sure you’re a good guy, Gerard, and if you’re not…” Frank shrugs. “I have a fucking dossier on you, man.”
Gerard half-giggles, half snores as Frank switches off the lights and shuffles to bed. He thinks about going to the bathroom, but he figures the alarm will go off before his bladder wakes him up.
The next day comes way, way too soon, and Frank stubs his toe and then trips getting into the shower because he’s trying so hard not to shout out in pain and wake Gerard. It’s been a really long time since anyone else has been in his space and although all the good manners his mom drilled into him when he was little are swimming around in his brain, he’s also really fucking tired and he’s not super coordinated at the best of times, let alone when he’s exhausted.
He hears Gerard stirring when he fills the coffee pot from the still-not-replaced kitchen tap, and he winces as it makes its usual clanking, bubbling, whining noise, but when he looks back into the living room, Gerard’s pulled the blankets over his head and there’s a gentle snoring coming from the mound on the couch.
Frank eats four cold pop tarts while he waits for his coffee to brew. He doesn’t like them, but they’re better than not eating on those mornings when he feels like his pajamas are made of Velcro and he just can’t get out of bed in time to make a decent breakfast. He pours coffee into his travel mug and switches the pot to keep warm, he’s hoping Gerard drinks it and he doesn’t have to clean up a pot full of tar when he gets home – given the way Gerard had been so coffee focussed last night, he thinks it’s a pretty safe bet and he’s a good fucking host, thank you very much.
In between logging the overnight reports into the NaughtyNice database (sometimes Frank wonders how the actual fuck kids manage to do the things he has to type in. Like. How does someone graffiti an elephant? Was it asleep?) Frank calls some people and sends some chimney mail and does his damndest to get a full disciplinary panel set up this quarter. It’s hard, because they’re busy getting everything ready for the big night, but he’s not afraid to call in a few favors and by the end of the day he’s gotten agreement for a panel to sit the next week. He’s got five days to get Gerard’s case together, and he’s sure they’re going to win.
He books some Labor Union office time for the following morning and sends Gerard a chimney mail to come and meet him there, and then he heads home for frozen pizza and bed. He’s so fucking tired he tries to use his office ID to open the door to his truck and he spends the drive home with the windows rolled right down to make sure he doesn’t fall asleep.
When he pulls into his driveway he shuts off the engine and leans back in his seat and seriously contemplates just spending the night there, although it’s so fucking cold that he’s pretty sure he’s going to end up with hypothermia just from the drive over, let alone spending more time out in his truck. He flexes his fingers and they feel stiff and he can’t remember if that’s one of the signs of hypothermia or if it’s just he’s tired right down to his bones. Either way, he figures, he should probably get his ass indoors. The longer he sits in his truck, the longer it is until he can go to bed.
He drops his keys when he’s locking his truck (it’s pretty safe up here, really, but Frank’s from Jersey and he can’t not lock shit up) and he practically falls over trying to pick them back up, which makes his hat fall off and then he nearly falls over again trying to pick that up. He is 400% done with today, seriously.
He walks up the path to his house jamming his hat back on because it is fucking freezing, so he doesn’t notice someone sitting on the ancient glider on his porch.
“Umm.” Gerard says.
Frank jumps about fourteen feet in the air. “Ahh! Fuck.” He pats himself on the chest and he can practically feel his heart jackhammering in shock.
“Oh! Uh.” Gerard stands up and holds out a tupperware to Frank. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you, I just, umm, like, yesterday was so generous of you, and I, like, I saw your kitchen wasn’t, like, totally finished and shit, so I figured you might like some, like, home cooking? Like it’s cold, so you’ll need to nuke it, but it’s better than pizza or mini tacos and shit.”
Frank laughs, a little ruefully. “You checked my garbage?”
Gerard goes a little pink. “Uh, I wasn’t prying or anything, I just saw when I was throwing out the coffee filter this morning.” He proffers the Tupperware again. “It’s my mom’s veggie lasagne, she made it the last time she visited.”
Frank feels a sharp, acid, tug of jealousy that Gerard’s mom knows what he does here, has visited him, and Frank’s mom can’t. It’s so unfair. He swallows, hard, it’s not Gerard’s fault that Frank’s not a part of an Elfing dynasty, and homemade lasagne sounds fucking great. He sticks his key in the door and gestures for Gerard to follow him inside.
“I hope you brought enough for two.”
Gerard follows him inside, still proffering the Tupperware. “I… there’s about, like, three portions in there? Mom makes these huge portions so Mikey and I can have a friend over for dinner.” He makes a face. “I think we’d need to clean up a little first though, so it’s better that you just heat this up here.”
“Not a good housekeeper then?” Frank smiles.
Gerard rubs the back of his neck. “Not so much, no. And it kinda seemed like, rude to get someone in to clean Elena’s home.” He sighs. “Maybe it’d be less rude that having it be a total shit tip though.”
“Yeah. I can recommend you someone if you want.” Frank gestures for Gerard to sit. “So, you’re staying for dinner, yeah?”
Gerard smiles at him “That’d be nice, thank you.”
Frank grins back. Gerard has these crazy-small teeth, but his smile lights up his whole face. “You want a beer?”
“Ummm.” Gerard winces. “I. Uh. I don’t drink.”
“Oh shit. Sure, you said you’d got clean, fuck, sorry.” Frank feels like a total shit. “I, uh, I’ve got Coke Zero, I think?”
“Awesome! In the fridge?” Gerard points, and when Frank nods he gets up and gets out a couple of sodas. “I’m not like, offended or anything – Mikey still drinks and I don’t usually even think about it. I… It’s been kind of hard, recently, but I just don’t keep any alcohol in the house, and Jimmy down at the store says that Elena would still kick his fucking ass if he sold me any so… I guess it’s kind of cheating, I’m totally staying away from temptation and shit, but I get that other people can drink and it’s fine, so. I just try and make art when I want a drink.”
Frank gets out a couple of plates and divides the lasagne between them. It makes for two enormous portions, but he’s tired and he’s fucking hungry, and even cold it smells amazing. He’s going to have to pull the cheese off the top, he thinks, because it’s a lot but his mouth is watering already. “What kind of things do you make?”
“Um. I paint sometimes, or I customise Mikey’s clothes, or… I tried knitting? I’m not really good at that though. I make a lot of random holes surrounded by wool.”
Frank has to try really hard not to laugh, Gerard looks so disgruntled, like the knitting’s conspiring against him.
“So, uhh, any thoughts on how long this is going to take?” Frank gestures at the microwave with one of the plates of lasagne.
“We do one for 4 minutes, then the other, then put the first one back in for 2. That seems to get it hot all the way through.”
Frank starts the heating process and collects silverware and paper towels. “I know it’s not, like, fancy, but do you mind if we eat in here? I’ve got a dining room table, but it’s covered in bits of plumbing and tools and things and it’s in the back room which is fucking cold.”
“Huh?” Gerard looks a bit confused. “Oh. Of course…we don’t even have a kitchen table dude, it’s just kind of nice to have real plates and silverware and it’s awesome not trying to eat off the coffee table. It’s hell on your back to bend like that and I end up wearing my dinner at least half the time.”
The lasagne is amazing, even if he has to take off the chewy, cheesy top. It’s all richly herbed and he can taste all the different vegetables in it. “It’s been fucking forever since I ate eggplant, you know.” Frank says, waving a piece on his fork. It’s incredible to be able to pull out an identifiable bit of vegetable.
Gerard laughs. “The mass-produced stuff is all a bit, like, stodgy, huh?”
“Unidentified vegetable glop.” Frank agrees. “At least it’s better than unidentified animal bit glop.”
“Ewww.” Gerard makes a face. “Hey, some of us like a hamburger now and again, you know!”
“And to think I was beginning to like you, too.” Frank grins.
Dinner is delicious and Gerard is really good company - dorky as fuck, with fucking theories about Star Wars and that Dungeons and Dragons cartoon but, like, totally earnest as well, totally interested in how Frank’s remodelling his home and totally impressed that he’s doing the work himself (given his mom keeps asking him if he’s lost his damned mind, it’s really nice that someone thinks he’s a competent adult) – but he’s fucking tired and there’s only so long that good company can keep him awake, especially with a fuckton of tasty warm carbs in his belly, drawing all the blood from his head to his digestive system, and he yawns impressively, cracking his jaw.
“Oh shit!” Gerard says, jumping up. “I’ve kept you up too late two nights in a row, I suck. Ummm.” He flails around. “You, uh.” He picks up his plate. “You go to bed, I’ll clean up before I go.”
Frank’s about to protest, but he yawns again, so he nods and laughs instead. “Thank you Gee…” He yawns again. “G’night.”
“’Night Frankie, sweet dreams!”
Frank feels 100% better the next morning, and when he gets up and goes to the kitchen he finds that Gerard’s not only done the dishes and cleaned up, he’s set up the coffee pot and left a little hand-written note with a picture of a cartoon lasagne saying om nom nom, I am legion, Please invite Gerard to bring more of me over anytime you want. Frank grins and fills two travel mugs with coffee, so he can bring one to Gerard for their meeting this morning. He really fucking wants to invite Gerard over again, the food was great and Gerard was even better company, but… well, he’s got a job to do. He needs to make sure that Gerard still has a job, and then they can maybe get to be friends.
The Labor Union offices are tiny and stuffed with a ridiculous number of filing cabinets and reference books and flyers and just junk - Frank’s tried saying that everything’s on the internet and they should recycle some of the shit, but the other guys are older and they don’t trust technology (they’re not totally wrong, sometimes the satellite goes out because of the snow and they lose internet access for a week. It’s why they’ve stuck with the old fashioned chimney mail, and not moved over to email… that and when Frank tried to cost getting email for everyone the figures started getting dizzyingly high and they’d have needed a whole lot of new IT and anyway, magic paper) - but at least the space is cosy. All of the furniture’s made its way into the offices from other places, the choice of chairs and desks and shelves from the junk that was being replaced in refurbishments, and it’s worn in and comfortable (if a little dirty; they’re supposed to keep the offices clean themselves, but they’re so cluttered that Frank loses heart every time he tries to clean up and no one else bothers).
Frank gets himself set up, puts Gerard’s file on the desk, gets the book that he’s going to reference and starts writing a list of things he needs to gather in the next few days – statements and minutes from meetings and memos and all that shit. He’s written up a storm by the time Gerard arrives, fifteen minutes later.
There’s a hesitant coughing noise and Gerard half-opens the door and just peeks around it. “Oh! Hi Frank! I didn’t know if this was the right place or not… it’s kind of…” He comes right in the room and gestures at the mess.
“Cluttered?” Frank says, raising an eyebrow.
“Yeah, a little.” Gerard lifts a pile of 401K brochures off a chair and sits down.
“No housekeeping and, like years of reference shit.” Frank shrugs. “I figure as long as we can still get in and out, we’re okay.”
Gerard looks around for somewhere to put the brochures, can’t find anywhere, shrugs and puts them on his knee. “Yeah, probably – it’s not like anyone’s judging you for neatness or anything. As long as you can, like…” he gestures with both hands, trying to draw something in the air, and the brochures slide to the floor with a crash. “Oh shit! Man, I’m sor…”
“Don’t worry about it G, it’s not going to make any noticeable difference to the mess around here.” Frank smiles. “And we’ve got work to do. I’ve got a list of, like, records and shit to pull, but I need to check some dates and things with you first, and, if you give me permission, check your chimney mail history.”
“Oh yeah, yeah of course.” Gerard sits on his hands and leans forward.
Frank books a shit ton of Labor Union office time, hours every day, before work, at lunchtime, in the evening, and he’s fucking exhausted, but by the day of Gerard’s panel he’s pretty sure there’s no way that Gerard’s going to be fired. He’s pretty sure that Gerard should end up promoted to the art department, in fact. He’s got a folder full of evidence and so many people who’ve stepped forwards to give Gerard a character reference – For an anti-social weirdo (self-described) Gerard Way has a lot of friends, and even more people who’d like to be his friend.
The panel meets in the Big guy’s office – he’s too busy at this time of the year to go anywhere else – and Gerard’s supervisor, Lon, Alfred from Sapient Resources, and Père Noël himself are all there when Frank walks in with Gerard in tow.
“Oh ho ho, let’s look at this then.” The Big Guy says, gesturing for them to come in and sit down.
Gerard grabs at Frank’s sleeve and holds on until Frank pulls out a seat from the big table and makes Gerard sit. Frank’s only met Father Christmas a couple of times, and he’s still a bit intimidated, but Gerard looks utterly terrified.
“You’re Elena’s boy, aren’t you?” Père Noël asks.
“She’s the only person who’s ever stood up to me, you know? I miss her. You must miss her, too.”
Gerard nods again.
Santa Claus smiles at Gerard. “Let’s get this cleared up and then maybe we’ll have some time to share memories of her.”
Frank smiles. The Big Boss is on board, Gerard’s supervisor just wants Gerard to get any help he needs, and Frank’s case is fucking A1. This is in the bag.
More than in the bag. Gerard starts out mumbling and shy, but it only takes a couple of solid kicks and Frank asking him to explain why gendered toys are bad for society before he’s off, all excited gestures, passionate explanations and, eventually, drawings to illustrate his point. The hearing over runs by two hours, but that’s because the head of design gets called in and it turns into a workshop. It is awesome and by the time Frank has to leave, Gerard’s been promoted to be a Design Consultant and he and Father Christmas are sharing bright-eyed reminiscences about Elena. Gerard’s supervisor, Alfred from S.R., and Frank leave quietly, exchanging smiles.
Nine hours later, there’s a pounding on Frank’s front door. It’s really fucking late and Frank’s already in the ratty shirt and sweats he wears to bed, and his heart leaps into his throat as he goes to open the front door. Something must be wrong, it’s the middle of the night and whoever’s outside is practically breaking down his door.
He hauls it open and Gerard practically falls on top of him.
“FRANKIE! You’re amazing!” Gerard is beaming.
Frank laughs. “I take it everything continued to go well after I left?”
“Oh my God! So well, we’re going to pull out some of Elena’s old designs and work on them and we’re working on the anatomy dolls, and a new dinosaur range and… I just…” Gerard waves his hands up next to his face, like he can’t get all the words out of his head, and then he grabs Frank's face between his hands and then Gerard kisses him.
It is not perfect. Gerard doesn’t quite get right on Frank’s mouth at first, and they’re on the doorstep and it’s Freezing, but it’s wonderful and Frank melts right into it.
Frank Iero might not be a tall, blond dude with awesome bow skills, but he is the happiest fucking Elf on the planet.