Mikey hears the door open but doesn't hear Eric's voice, which means it's most likely Gerard finally getting home. He doesn't look up from his book until he hears the tiny sound of meows coming from the foyer.
Mikey goes to stand but at that moment Gerard appears in the door of the library, absolutely drenched from the rain and carrying a sodden box in his arms. He's cradling it as if it's filled with gold.
"What in the world-?" Mikey asks.
"Someone put them out in the rain," Gerard says, face scrunched up with despair. "I couldn't just leave them."
Mikey sets his book aside and climbs off the settee as Gerard sets the box on the carpet.
It's filled with kittens, of course, and Mikey sighs even as a reluctant grin pulls at his lips.
"We can't keep them all, Gerard."
"No, no," Gerard agrees, sitting on the floor next to the box. "I'll find them all homes soon enough."
Mikey rings a bell and a moment later Eric appears, looking slightly amused.
"Towels, please," Mikey says. "And some warm milk?"
Mikey sits on the carpet next to Gerard and watches the tiny kittens crawl on top on one another. Eric appears a few moments later with towels over one arm and a bowl of warm milk on a tray.
Together, Gerard and Mikey dry the kittens off and set them near the bowl so they can drink.
Mikey picks up the last kitten as Gerard pulls his wet coat off and uses one of the towels on his dripping hair.
"I think this one is sickly," Mikey muses.
The kitten is the smallest of the litter and it doesn't seem interested in putting up a fight as Mikey dries it. When it's eyelids open a crack, Mikey can see that it's pupils are glazed over with white.
"And blind," he adds sadly.
Gerard picks a few of the other kittens up and puts them back near the bowl of milk when they try to explore, then comes to look at the smallest kitten.
"Oh no," he sighs, heart-broken. "What do we do?"
Mikey doesn't really know anything about cats, but decides to answer anyway.
"Being out of the rain should do it a world of good, but I don't think we can do anything for it's eyes. I don't know anyone who would want a blind cat."
Gerard frowns at the little kitten for a moment before smiling.
"I think I know who would take it."
The brothers spend the next day caring for and playing with the kittens, who look much better now that they're dry and fed. Gerard starts to name them before Mikey reminds him that they're giving them all away as soon as the rain lets up.
The sky is clear the next morning, so they order the carriage and pile the kittens in a new box lined with blankets. They visit all their friends who seem reluctant but cave under Gerard's pouting. By the end of the trip they only have the blind one left.
Gerard tells their driver to head for Iero's and Mikey sighs.
"Gerard, really? Was this your plan all along?"
Gerard has the decency to look abashed. "Of course not, I certainly didn't plan on finding a litter of sopping wet kittens, but I did and I thought maybe-"
"I doubt very much that they'll want a sickly kitten to take care of when their son-"
"Frank is not a burden to his household," Gerard frowns, "as much as people like to gossip that he is. I think he'll be overjoyed to have a companion."
"Mhmm," Mikey hums. "Starting your courtship a little early, don't you think? He won't come of age for another few months, at least."
"October, as you know perfectly well," Gerard snips. "And I'm not- we're not courting. I haven't even spoken to his parents yet."
Mikey doesn't have a chance to respond to that before the carriage stops in the driveway of the Iero estate.
Mikey lets his brother make all the excuses and apologies for showing up unannounced, but the Ieros look pleased as anything to have Gerard inquiring after their son.
Everyone knows it's a good match, just like everyone knows the Ieros are just waiting for Frank to be old enough to be presented so that Gerard can ask for his hand.
Gerard and Mikey sit with Frank's parents in the parlor, drinking tea and making polite conversation until their butler arrives with Frank gripping his arm.
"Franklin, dear," Mrs. Iero smiles. "Gerard and Michael have to come to visit you."
Frank's face splits into a smile that lights up the room, or at least lights up the room in Gerard's eyes.
The butler helps Frank into a large armchair then leaves. Mikey watches Frank's parents exchange pleased little grins as Gerard and Frank greet each other.
"You haven't been over in a while and I've been anxious to hear the next chapter of-" Frank is saying before he cuts off at the sound of a tiny mew. "What was that?" he asks, turning his head slightly and frowning.
"Oh!" Gerard exclaims, seeming to remember the tiny kitten wrapped up in his arms. "I- I brought you a present."
"You did?" Frank wonders, smiling delightedly.
Gerard blushes and everyone pretends not to notice.
"Yes, I was coming home the other night and I happened upon a litter of kittens abandoned in a box."
"Oh no," Frank says, just as forlorn as Gerard had sounded when he presented the kittens to Mikey.
"I know, it was awful," Gerard nods. "I brought them home with me at once and Mikey and I got them cleaned up and fed, and we've spent the day finding them good homes."
"But, the smallest of them is blind and I thought- I thought she would make an excellent companion for you, so I-" Gerard stammers.
Frank reaches a hand out into the thin air. "Can I hold her?"
Gerard stands and crosses the small room, carefully placing the tiny kitten in Frank's hands.
Frank smiles and pets her, fingers tracing over the kitten's tiny features.
"She's white with little black patches," Gerard says, which makes Frank grin even more.
"Oh, she's perfect, Gerard. Thank you so much."
Gerard finds his seat again and pretends that he's not bright red.
"What will you name her, Franklin?" asks Mrs. Iero.
"I assumed Gerard already named her," Frank says.
"No, I thought you'd like to-" Gerard starts.
Frank laughs and Gerard blushes even harder.
"You and I both know you named every kitten, Gerard, don't try and hide it."
"He did," Mikey adds. "I don't know how, since they all looked the same to me."
"The spots were different, Mikey," Gerard says. He rolls his eyes as he realizes the trap he fell into. "Okay, yes," he admits. "I named them all."
There's polite chuckling and Frank holds the tiny kitten to his chest.
"So, what's her name?"
Frank sets his fingers atop the kitten's head and coos her name. She turns to search for the sound and Frank smiles.
"She already knows her name," Frank says. "Thank you so much Gerard, she's wonderful."
"Of course, it's nothing," Gerard flushes.
After some more polite conversation Gerard and Mikey take their leave. Gerard pauses on the way out to promise Frank that he'll come by soon to read the next chapter of whatever book they're reading this time and Frank says he can't wait.
As the butler shows them out, Mikey can hear Frank's mother saying she'll make a cushioned bed for Annabelle to sleep on.
Over the next two months Gerard visits Frank often, reading to him or playing with Annabelle under the chaperoned eye of Mrs. Iero.
The Iero's hold a masquerade ball for Frank's birthday. His presentation to Society goes off without a hitch and everyone is curious to talk to the blind son of Mr. Iero, with whom they're all quickly enchanted.
Frank dances two songs with Gerard, which makes most of the guests smirk. During their first dance Frank assures Gerard that Annabelle is safely tucked away in his room.
Near the end of the party, Mikey finds himself talking to Frank during one of the dances.
"Are we out of earshot, Mikey?" Frank mutters, fingers tightening a bit on Mikey's elbow, where he's holding on.
Mikey checks around them and confirms that they are.
"I know it's ridiculously forward of me to ask you this," Frank starts, "but I was wondering if Gerard, um-"
Mikey grins. "I think he plans to speak to your parents sometime next week."
Frank blushes under his black and red mask.
"Really? I had hoped so."
"And between you and me," Mikey adds, "I think your parents are planning a Christmas wedding."
"Oh good, I wouldn't want to have to wait for spring," Frank sighs, then blushes harder when he realizes what he said.
Mikey chuckles. "Don't worry, Gerard feels the same way."
Frank's grip tightens again and he smiles. "I really can't wait, Mikey. I'm so excited."
"I am too," Mikey laughs.
"For your brother's happiness, or because it means you'll soon be able to speak to miss Simmon's parents?"
Mikey flushes. "Good to know I can't trust Gerard with secrets."
"Only around me," Frank giggles. "He tells me everything, as I'm sure he tells you everything."
"True enough. And yes, I'm planning on asking for her hand sometime in the new year."
"A spring wedding?" Frank asks, grinning.
"She does love flowers," Mikey smiles.
The wedding gets put off until January because Frank gets sick during the holiday, but Gerard visits his fiancé everyday to read to him and make sure he's recovering.
Annabelle spends almost all her time curled up in Frank's sickbed, nuzzled against his side and purring.
The wedding is wonderful, of course. Frank and Gerard both look stunning in new suits and the guests all have a great time.
Frank's hand finds it's way into the crook of Gerard's arm and stays there for almost the entire evening, trusting Gerard to guide him around the party.
Frank and Annabelle move into the Way estate and they're both completely doted upon by the staff. Mikey's never seen his brother happier and Frank and Gerard seem to fall in love with each other even more everyday.
Mikey and Alicia get their spring wedding and then move into one of the Way's country homes, although they visit Gerard and Frank all the time.
Annabelle grows big and healthy and is always happy to let Mikey and Alicia's tottering little children pet her.
Frank and Gerard grow old together.
Frank's hand keeps it's spot on Gerard's arm, and Gerard covers his husband's fingers with his own, holding on and guiding him, always keeping him close.