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In a Barbie World

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Gerard sighed and opened the vintage Barbie case where he stored all of Algernon the hamster's outfits, hung neatly on small pink hangers and arranged from most casual (footie pajamas) to most formal (a black velvet dress with sequins). He hung up the little Superman cape that Mikey had just made somewhere in the middle, then took out the sparkly dress and held it up in front of the hamster with so much disappointment on his face that it nearly broke Frank's heart. It was some of Mikey's best work, and Gerard had almost teared up a little when Algernon had squealed and tried to chew it off.

One of Gerard's current hobbies was trying to get Algernon to wear clothes, but then he always ended up being sad when Algernon looked uncomfortable and unhappy in them. Frank moved closer to pat Gerard on the back and said, "Algernon is a boy hamster, right? He wouldn't want to wear a dress anyway."

"He's a modern hamster not mired in traditional gender roles," Gerard said, all earnestness until he started to eye Frank speculatively. "And everyone deserves to look pretty sometimes."

"Oh no." Frank's eyebrows arched high and his hands flew up on autopilot, as if that would somehow protect him from Gerard's crazy. "Oh hell no. You are not putting a dress on me."

"But Frank..." Gerard gave him the big pleading eyes that usually got him anything he wanted, especially from Frank.

"No, look at me." Frank waved his hands at himself, from his delicate features to his slim hips. "I'm short and kinda pretty. I'm already fighting an uphill battle for masculine street cred."

"Yeah, because you don't have any," Bob said from the couch, where he was pretending to read a magazine but was obviously eavesdropping on Frank and Gerard's conversation.

"Shut it, Robert. Not everyone can be a Viking marauder like you." He turned to Mikey and Ray, who had abandoned their video game and were nearly pissing themselves with laughter and muttering "Viking marauder what the fuck" at each other. "And you guys can shut up too."

Brian rolled his eyes and sighed loudly. "All of you idiots shut up a minute." When he had everyone's attention, he said, "Gerard, do you want me to go get you a Barbie or Skipper or whothefuckever so you have something to play dress up with?"

Gerard looked scandalized. "No! A grown man playing with dolls? That would be weird."

"Says the grown man wearing girls' pajama pants that are five inches too short," Frank said, feeling slightly vindicated for the whole dress thing...until Bob chimed in again.

"What's he need Barbies for? He's got Frank."

Gerard just said, "They're comfortable" like he didn't hear anything else, and maybe he didn't. Living in close quarters of van and bus had made them all develop their selective hearing to a nearly supernatural degree.

"Mm hmm," Frank and Bob murmured together in freaky unison. They'd obviously been on the bus for too damn long, but Frank didn't let that distract him too much to grumble, "And I'm still not wearing a fucking dress."

"But you'd look adorable," Gerard said and Bob--that encouraging-the-crazy motherfucker--nodded and held up a copy of OK! magazine that had Angelina Jolie on the cover, as if he was picturing Frank in the same dress she was wearing.

When he finally got the ability to speak back, Frank calmly and succinctly said, "I hate you both."

"You know, if Frank wore that, it would need a lot of altering. Her legs are, like, eight miles long and Frank's..." Mikey held his hands up as if to measure the length of Frank's legs and for a split-second Frank seriously wondered if any of the other bands on the tour needed a new guitar player. "But I think I could make it work," Mikey said confidently. "And with the left over fabric I could make you a matching wrap, Frank. It'd be awesome."

"You do have some mad sewing skills," Ray said, also encouraging the crazy.

"I take back what I said." Frank took all of them in with a sweeping glance. "I hate you all."

"Hey, I don't want to see you in a dress," said Brian, holding up one hand as if that would stop the madness. "In fact, I really, really don't want you to do it. There would inevitably be pictures that would then get out and make my life a living hell for at least a day or two."

"Except Brian," Frank amended. "Brian can stay."