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"I don't think it's a good idea," Mikey says reasonably. That's warning sign number one.

Frank hunkers down, out of the line of fire, even though he's already lurking at the edges of the conversation. He's sprawled on Gerard's messy bed, pretending he's reading the latest issue of Ultimate Spider-Man. If anyone were paying a scrap of attention to him, there's their clue that Frank isn't seeing a single fucking panel. Peter Parker, even the Ultimates version, is a whiny douchebag.

"I know you want to go. You should go. You don't have to worry about me all the time." Gerard's got his super earnest face on. His eyes are guileless and wide, so wide, like he's trying to beam 'it's okay, trust me' vibes directly into Mikey's brain.

If Frank had a knife, he could carve the tension like a big fat turkey at Thanksgiving. Not that he's ever carved a turkey. His dad used to do all those stereotypical manly things before the divorce, and shortly after it, Frank went vegetarian, so his mom mostly did too, claiming it was easier on her to just cook one meal. What Frank's saying, though, is that there's tension. A metric fucking ton of tension.

"It's only a few nights," Gerard adds.

Mikey says, "Three," all death-sentence dire. Not for him. All he's gonna do is go north for a couple days and chase rockstars around. And not for Gee, either. Not really. Gerard's pretty much invincible, as long as he stays away from white picket fences and doesn't take up sunbathing. But, like, bad shit could happen. Bad shit, as far as Frank knows, has never happened, because Mikey knows how to handle Gee like Frank knows how to handle a six-string. It's the potential that's putting the strained note in Mikey's mellow voice.

"I'll eat before you go," Gerard says, wheedling. "And as soon as you get back."

Mikey says, "You'll go feral by Friday," his face the Grand fucking Canyon of frowns.

Gerard's hands flap around. "I've gone more than four days before!"

"Yeah," Mikey snaps, "when you were fucking-"

"Whoa," Frank says. Mikey Way, cussing out his brother, for real. Talk about bad shit. "I could help."

Two sets of eyes turn on Frank, one hopeful, one severely doubtful. He resists the urge to hike his shoulders up around his ears. So what if he's a kid or whatever compared to them. Gerard doesn't get out much. Like, at all. He appreciates the company. And it isn't like Mikey's ever said anything about it being weird how much Frank likes hanging around a dark, dirty hole in the ground while Gerard does his crazy awesome art thing.

"I could," Frank says. "Y'know, if you wanted. All you gotta do is stuff a couple baggies in the fridge, right?"

"He doesn't like it stale," Mikey says, at the same time Gerard says, "See? Easy! You should go, Mikes."

Blood goes stale? Frank swallows hard. There's something he didn't really need to know, ever. "I could get it fresh?" he offers, and ignores the uneasy roil of his stomach. He's okay with what Gerard is. Frank's got a special diet, partly by choice and partly because his body is fucked beyond all belief, so it's easier to not antagonise it with things like cheese and milk and the flesh of living beings. Gerard doesn't have a choice. Even if Frank doesn't want to think about the specifics of where Gerard's lunch comes from, the alternative is no Gerard. He deals. "From, like, the butcher?"

"Frankie," Gerard says, eyes going soft, voice like goose down, so warm you could sink straight into it forever. Both brothers claim Gerard doesn't have any kind of cool creature of night powers. Frank's not sure he buys it. Gerard could ask for almost anything in that voice and he'd do it. He's volunteering to go to a butcher, for fuck's sake. "You don't have to do that for me. It'll be okay in the fridge upstairs."

Mikey's frown doesn't budge, but he's wavering. With Mikey, it's all in the set of his shoulders and where he puts his hands. Hands in pockets is good. "One bag," he says. "Half on Friday, half on Saturday. I'll bring back another on Sunday."

The entire time Mikey talks, Gerard nods intently. "Got it," he says, as if he isn't the oldest dude in the room.

"Okay." Mikey breathes out slowly, his shoulders easing out of their linebacker hunch. A hint of something other than a frown or a flat-out stare flirts with his face. "This'll work."

"Frank'll watch me," Gerard says, poking around his desk for a crumpled pack of Player's. "He won't need to, because I'm going to fucking, fucking," and he trails off, rooting under a teetering stack of sketchbooks. It takes him a minute, but he eventually emerges with a lighter. "Fucking watch myself," he finishes, lighting and brandishing his smoke triumphantly.

"Sure, Gee," Mikey says, allowing Gerard to fold him into a sideways hug. Mikey tolerates it with a huff and a slant to his mouth that's as close to a smile as he ever gets when Gerard's being all Gerard, and Frank watches ashes dust the stained carpet. Gerard makes his oh, oops face and shrugs, still hanging onto Mikey.

Frank shakes his head and grins. It'll totally work. All he's gotta do is make sure Gerard doesn't go hungry. Totally easy.

*

Frank's got classes the next day, and the day after that is Thursday. Technically he's got classes on Thursday, too, but he figures nobody's gonna call him out on skipping Chemistry. He kinda took it for a filler, anyway. And so he could cackle over a bubbling beaker, all crazy mad scientist, at least once a week. So what if his grade's not the best.

Junior year of high school, Frank's guidance counsellor told his mom his problem was being smart. He coasted, and got lazy. Frank never bothered to correct the guy that applying his fingers to a power chord is a hell of a lot more fun than to the pages of a textbook.

The Ways' house is pretty far from Frank's school: a train, two busses, then a walk uphill. By the time he gets to the front stoop, his tee shirt's plastered to his back and there are gross wet spots around the neck and at his pits. Fucking summer. He can't wait to get down into the sweet cool relief of Gerard's basement.

Opening the door without knocking--they're not in the best neighbourhood out here, but he seriously pities the moron that tries to rip this place off--he dumps his knapsack in the hall and trudges through the kitchen to the basement stairs. This door he knocks on, good and loud, and waits for Gerard to holler a greeting before carefully cracking it open a sliver and sidling through. He asked, only once, what would happen if Gerard stuck, like, a hand in the sun. If it'd go up in flames like in the movies, whoosh, bonfire. Gerard laughed his weird, high-pitched cartoon laugh and said no, it'd be more like roasting a chicken, but in fast forward. And then he apologised for bringing up roast chicken again, because Frank had gone green, and Frank hadn't wanted to risk opening mouth to say it wasn't the chicken thing. From the way Gerard talked, it was way too easy to imagine he'd tested it out. Imagine Gerard literally baking in the sun.

"Is it hot out?" Gerard calls up as Frank trudges down the stairs, willing his stomach to uncramp at the memory. He's got total train-wreck syndrome some days. The last thing in the world he wants to think about is slow-roasted Gee. "You smell like it's hot."

"Yeah," Frank says, rounding the weird 360 degree corner at the bottom of the stairs into Gerard's room. It's almost pitch-black down here and cool as a morgue. Goosebumps prickle along Frank's arms and the back of his neck. "You're lucky you're down here, seriously. Thought I was gonna evaporate."

Gerard's in one corner of the room with three paintbrushes in one hand and no canvas in sight. That doesn't mean there's no paint involved, though. Once, Frank caught him painting the ceiling right above the bed in a fucked up collage of exploding sunsets and stars with teeth. It's pretty epic. "I guess you don't want coffee," he says, the shadow of his shoulders slumping defeatedly.

Gerard always fucking wants coffee. He says he can't taste it, but he'll cart a mug of it around for hours like it's a baby blankie. Mostly he likes the smell. And when someone else is drinking it, because according to him, people smell like whatever they eat the most. This one time, when he was maybe high (Frank's not too sure if Gerard can get high, but he'll toke up with Frank when Frank's in the mood), he said Frank smells like green growing things, coffee, and spunk. And then he looked at Frank with wide, wondering eyes, like he thought Frank ate a lot of jizz, and Frank was like, "Dude, what the fuck, I jerked off!" Gerard said, "Oh, yeah, that'll do it," and nodded, and took another hit.

Frank went home that night still buzzed, and jerked of thinking about Gerard thinking about him jerking off. Like, twice. Which totally didn't make things awkward the next day at all. Frank remembers walking down the stairs wondering if Gerard would smell it on him again, if Gerard could sniff out when he thought about it and got a little turned on, and what the fuck else Gerard smelled on him day after day.

"Frank?" Gerard asks, shuffling his way through the debris littering the floor.

"Iced coffee?" Frank squeaks, then shrugs, playing it off. So what if he squeaked. "I mean, like, watch out, man, I'm kinda rank."

Flashing a smile, Gerard says, "You smell fine," and Frank determinedly doesn't squint through the dark trying to see his teeth. Gerard's pretty self-conscious about them, when he stops to think about it. Most of the time he's off in another world doesn't notice Frank staring at the double sets of fangs set against his small, even teeth. They're not at all like snake fangs. More like cat's teeth, sharp, pointy canines meant for piercing and tearing, four on top and four on bottom. Perfect for ripping into somebody's throat.

Gerard's giving Frank a weirdly steady look.

"I'm gonna put a pot on," Frank says, backing up. He's gotta stop thinking about this shit when Gerard's right there, fuck. "Mikey head out yet?"

"Yeah," Gerard says, following Frank to the bottom of the stairs. "Can you put lots of sugar in your coffee?"

Frank makes a face but says, "Sure," Gerard's strange little giggle chasing him up to the kitchen. Maybe Gerard's lacking on the mind-bending powers, but he can sure as hell see in the dark just fine. "Stand back, okay? I'm gonna leave the door open a crack."

"I'm safe," Gerard calls up. "And milk, too, okay? Um, make it a latte?"

The kitchen is ten billion degrees hotter than the surface of the sun. Frank grabs the carafe off the burner and sticks it under the tap, digging through the cupboards for a clean filter while it fills. "I'm not making fucking espresso!"

From downstairs comes a disgruntled silence.

"I'm not!" Smacking the tap off, Frank hefts the coffee pot and seriously considers dumping it over his head. "It's fucking boiling up here."

"Okay," Gerard grumbles.

"Go paint or something," Frank says, pressing close to the basement door. "I'm gonna rinse off in the bathroom."

"There's a bathroom down here."

"Yeah, but--"

Another one of those silences creeps up the stairs. "You smell like sunshine," Gerard says, right as Frank moves to close the door, figuring that Gerard's gotten distracted. "Don't wash it off?"

And fuck, what choice has Frank got left there? The dude hasn't seen the sun for years. "Yeah," Frank says again, clearing the slight rasp out of his throat. "Yeah, okay. Coffee'll be done in a minute."

Gerard doesn't say anything, but the quiet downstairs takes on a vibe of contentment. Like fuck Frank's making a fucking latte, though. Gerard'll have to deal with the ghetto version.

Naturally, the coffee takes for fucking ever to percolate. Frank paces the small kitchen, socks catching repeatedly on the torn linoleum until he gets frustrated enough to yank them off. He's never been alone with Gerard before, not like this. Even if Mikey wasn't home when Frank got here, or went out, he could be back at any time. Now he's gone for four whole days. And Gerard's counting on him. They both are.

"Fuck," Frank says, an hauls open the fridge. Beside the carton of milk that's out tomorrow--Frank'll have to pick up more, since he knows Gee's gonna want coffee again before Mikey gets back--are two bags of donor blood. Frank quickly tightens his hold on the milk. Fuck. No way Mikey forgot to feed Gerard before he left. No fucking way.

Shoving the carton onto the counter, Frank snatches up one of the bags and runs for the basement. "Comin' down!" he shouts, hesitating barely a beat before he yanks the door open and pounds blindly down the stairs. "Gee, fuck, look, I found-- Did you forget already? Are you okay?"

"Forget?" Gerard echoes, his voice gone hazy.

Frank's heart thuds into his ribs. "Fuck, you did, didn't you? Fuck. Fuck. One day and we're messing up. You didn't eat."

"Oh," Gerard says, and laughs, his voice coming back stronger. "No, sorry, I was painting. I didn't forget. I told Mikey I'd eat when you got here. Is that okay?"

Something weird squirms through Frank's belly. He thought he'd have another day to get used to the idea of feeding Gerard fucking human blood. "Yeah, no, oh. Okay. I just-- Yeah. That's okay. Do you, uh, warm it up?"

"Yes, please," Gerard says. A brush clinks against a glass. "Don't worry so much, Frankie. We'll be fine."

"Right," Frank says, not so sure. "Fine." It's not like there's a handy rulebook for babysitting vague artsy type vampires. His eyes haven't had a chance to really adjust yet, but he can tell Gerard's smiling. He ends up smiling back.

Gerard says, "Coffee," his cheap 1960s diner stool creaking as he gets back to work.

"Fucker," Frank tosses back, and happily tromps back up the stairs, blood bag in hand. It's weird. Thirty seconds ago he was totally wigging out. There's no way that's not some freaky vampire power, like, infecting him with Gerard's good mood. As abilities go, it's pretty swank. Frank's been on the verge before of punching douchebags in their douchebag faces, and Gerard's calmed him down in minutes. That's some awesome anger management technique right there.

The coffee's almost done when he gets back to the kitchen. Rooting through the cupboard again, he hauls out two mugs, spacing them out evenly on the counter and placing the blood between them. He stares at the bag for a minute, then picks it back up again, poking at the seals. Mikey could've left some fucking instructions. How the hell is he supposed to get this thing open without blood spurting everywhere?

Mining the kitchen turns up a roll of medical tubing. Sizing up the bag one more time, he figures he can poke that into one of the spout-type things, pour some blood into the mug, and call it a day. Resealing it's gonna be a bitch, but it's not like he's saving it for a transfusion. It'll probably be okay if it's not exactly sterile.

He manages to get the mug full and into the microwave with minimal fuss, and without tossing his cookies. The sight of blood doesn't exactly bother him--he's banged himself up worse walking down the fucking street than most people who come out of fender benders--and it isn't like he has to whip up a slab of poor, helpless cow to feed Gerard. It's just, Gerard eats people. And even if it's Gerard, vague, flaily Gerard, who shoos spiders outside for Frank instead of murdering the disgusting little bastards like they deserve, it's kinda creepy.

"Ugh," Frank says, under his breath, and turns away from the microwave to butcher his perfectly good cup of coffee with a pound of sugar and half a carton of milk. When the microwave beeps, he sucks his spoon clean to give the blood a quick stir. Then he pokes it with his finger to make sure it's warm all the way through, and not, like, boiling. It's a lot thinner than movie blood. He gives it a sniff, but it doesn't have that same metallic tang like his does. Probably whatever is put in it to keep it from clotting.

"Soup's up!" Frank calls, rinsing his finger in the sink and grabbing up both mugs. "You back from the door?"

"All good," Gerard calls, sounding way more present than he had ten minutes ago. Frank gets like that too, when he's really fucking starving. Zoned out to the max, but mention food, and he is on.

Bumping open the door with his foot, Frank says, "Watch it, okay, I don't wanna spill," and Gerard says, "Okay, Frankie," kinda eager and excited. Frank grins. It's almost, almost, like he got to cook for Gerard, and Gerard's all pumped up to try it. Sure, it's nuked blood, but whatever. All the grossness is totally worth it.

Setting the coffee down on the top stair, Frank makes sure the door is latched tight. Paranoid like he never is when Mikey's around, he flips the lock for good measure, just in case a stray breeze pops it open. There will be no Baked Gerard on his watch. Unless there's some pot lying around, that's okay, but no literal baking.

Gerard's waiting at the bottom of the stairs, eyes glittering brightly in the lamp's soft glow. He's got his hands clasped behind his back, fidgeting.

"Ta-da," Frank says, proffering the blood mug. "Lunch."

Reaching reverently for the mug, Gerard says, "Thanks, Frankie," and cradles it in his hands, breathing deep. He takes a slow, controlled sip. Dude must've been totally starving, if he's worried about pacing himself like that. "Your coffee smells great."

"Tastes like Willy Wonka barfed in it, but whatever." Shuffling through the mess on the floor (Frank learned long ago the best way to tackle Gerard's room was to slough through it, not mince daintily) Frank makes his way to the bed. He plops down and scoots back, resting against the wall. "There's only like a quarter bag in that mug, man. Drink up. It'll get cold."

Gerard peers into his mug. "I will," he says, and takes another teeny sip.

Frank rolls his eyes. On the way down, they catch on the painting Gerard had been working on. Now that there's some light down here, he can see that it's a total homage to horror movie posters from the 70s, but instead of random characters, it's them. Like, Mikey is looming in the background, larger than life, his flat stare downright fucking terrifying with his eyes whited out by his glasses and his face framed by stylised blood spatters. Gerard and him are the foreground, dead centre, Gerard sprawled dramatically at Frank's feet, his upturned face desperate and longing through the blood he's absolutely fucking covered in, like he's wrapped up in a blanket of gore.

"Wow," Frank says, shuffling off the bed to get a closer look. Gerard's painted him taller than he is, broader, stronger, and it's kinda weird even while it's kinda cool. In the painting, his face is blank, blanker than Mikey's, even, and he's holding a hand out to Gerard. Unlike the other two, there isn't a spot of blood on him anywhere. Totally pristine, almost fucking glowing in the middle of all that red. "That is pretty fucking awesome."

Through a mouthful of blood, Gerard says, "Thanks," and smiles, pleased. There's some red smeared on his teeth that Frank determinedly ignores. Once upon a time, Gerard used to duck his head shyly at a compliment about his work, almost like he didn't quite believe it, or he thought Frank was only being nice. Frank's glad he got over that shit. "It started out as those guys from the comic I was telling you about yesterday, right? But I got bored with their designs. I gotta reimagine them or I'm never gonna wanna draw it. Anyway, yeah, I figured, why not?"

"It's really fucking cool." The Frank in the painting even has tiny details on his arms and neck mirroring Frank's tats. There are a couple more besides, one on the hand that Frank doesn't have yet but was thinking about getting. He points at it. "Can you make me a bigger sketch of that one?"

"Sure," Gerard says, and downs what's left of his lunch in one long gulp while he digs around one-handed for a sketchbook.

Frank's stomach swoops. "I didn't mean right now. You're busy, man." He gestures at the unfinished canvas.

"Nah, now's good. It's fresh in my head, y'know?" Absently handing Frank his empty mug, Gerard grabs some pencils and plunks his ass straight down on the floor. "You should get some more coffee, Frankie," he says, opening the sketchbook over his knees. "And there's some things in the fridge for you to eat."

"You got Mikey to shop for me?" Frank swirls the over-sweetened sludge at the bottom of his mug. Bracing for the rush, he tips it up and swallows as much of it as he can without letting it hit his taste buds.

"Yeah," Gerard says, the light, sweeping scratch of his pencil already started up. "Of course. You're staying over, you gotta have food."

Frank chokes on a lump of sugar. Thumping a fist against his chest, he waves off Gerard's concerned glance. "Yeah," he says. Of course, yeah, he's staying over. Except nobody fucking mentioned it. "Right, yeah. I'll go, uh, grab us some eats."

Tossing Frank a quick smile, Gerard gets back to sketching, juggling five different pencils while he smudges and shades.

When Frank steps out of the basement this time, a shot of sunlight nails him right in the face. Panicking for no good reason, he slams the door shut and throws his back against it, braced like the sun's jonesing for a fight. This is fucking crazy. He never fucking worried this much before. Tomorrow Frank's gonna have to nab some supplies from his dorm, because his original plan of swinging by for lunch with Gerard on his break is so toasted. There's no way he's gonna be able to go to class while Gerard's home here, alone and vulnerable all damn day. He's sick all the fucking time, anyway. If he calls up Dr. Bost and says he needs a note for today and Friday, he'll get one, no problem.

Satisfied with his shiny new course of action, Frank goes to the sink to rinse their mugs, then sets about making a couple of sandwiches for himself and warming up some more blood for Gerard.

*

Things are cool until a little after sunset. Frank spent the afternoon flopped on Gerard's bed again, watching Monty Python, while Gerard did something with glueing shards of glass to a canvas in a really neat arcane pattern between sipping on his third helping of Soylent Green. It takes Frank about an hour to notice that Gerard abandoning the half-finished canvas to go back to the painting, then leaving that to switch to sketching, then turning his attention for all of five minutes to something else, isn't really Gerard's style. Gerard's got focus when it comes to art.

"Hey," Frank says, muting the television. "You still hungry?"

"No," Gerard says, too fast. "Well, maybe." He starts patting down his pockets distractedly.

"Want a smoke?" Frank tries. "It's late, we could go outside?"

"Yes, yeah, can we?" Gerard says in a rush.

Slowly, Frank says, "Sure," and rolls off the bed. Gerard's kind of a twitchy guy, but it's usually a mellow sort of twitchy, where he'll fidget and fuss and gnaw on his fingers, but it's all in slow motion. Definitely not this fluttering, distracted thing he's doing. Scooping Gerard's pack of cigarettes off the desk, along with a lighter, Frank grabs up a hoodie from the mess on the floor. Sometimes it gets pretty cool at night. "C'mon."

Frank takes point heading up the stairs, as if there's a sliver of leftover sunlight waiting to ambush unguarded vampires. He eases open the door, double checking that it really is as late as the clock says it is, and the sun's long since dipped beneath the horizon. Finding the kitchen dark except for the light he left on above the stove, Frank lets the door swing wide. "Coast is--oof."

"I can still smell it," Gerard says, crowding close against Frank's back. "It smells like you up here, warm and bright."

"Yeah, uh, I had the windows open." They're all closed now, though, blinds firmly shut. Frank's not sure what Mikey's usual habit is, but Frank knows people talk, even in a neighbourhood like this one. The idea of random nosy strangers peering in through the windows to get a look at the weird hermit brother who only comes out at night pisses him off.

"Awesome," Gerard says happily. He squeezes by Frank to head through the house to the unkempt backyard, screen door banging behind him before he catches and holds it open. "Come with me."

Frank's mouth is weirdly dry. He scrubs his palms casually against the legs of his jeans."Yeah, 'course."

Outside is still mostly warm, the heat of the day built up in the ground, but the breeze has some bite. Frank pulls on the hoodie and tugs the hood up, stuffing his hands in the front pocket as he trudges down the rickety step after Gerard. Way in the back, butted up against the iron fence and the back alley of the squat strip mall on the other side of the block, sits an old wooden swing half-hidden by overgrown weeds. Not concerned with its creaking, Gerard clambers on up. He pats the opposite seat. "C'mon."

Carefully, wincing at the squeak of rusty bolts, Frank climbs on. "I'm comin', I'm comin', geez. Mikey never let you out or what?"

Gerard just grins and pats the seat harder, waiting for Frank to gingerly sit down before snatching up the smokes and the Zippo. He lights up one for Frank first, offering it with a flourish, then one for himself, sucking the smoke deep into his lungs and holding it there way, way longer than somebody who's got to breathe. He lets it out in a long, thin stream, hand hovering near his face with his wrist cocked, his hair dark shadows framing pale skin and glittering eyes, glamourous as an old movie.

"You only think you're cool," Frank says, and blows smoke in his face.

Gerard honks his weirdo laugh, startling and loud, shattering the illusion, but not taking the strange, itchy feeling between Frank's shoulders with it. He rolls his shoulders and shifts, sprawling back in the seat to hide behind his cigarette. With the busy street out front and bustling late-night businesses behind them, a convenience store and a laundromat and one place Frank's pretty sure does peep shows, it's not quiet. The noises seem miles and miles away anyway. Nights like these crawl beneath Frank's skin and nest there, prickling. Like there's something in the air, in the dark, waiting.

Something like Gerard, he thinks.

"Frankie?" Gerard asks, one side of his mouth crooked in an uncertain smile. Frank's gaze hooks on a sliver of fang. His fangs aren't shockingly white like in books and movies. They're dense-looking, the off-white colour of exposed bone. The rest of Gerard's teeth look even tinier next to them. Sometimes Frank will catch himself running his tongue along the blunt edges of his own teeth, trying to gauge the difference in thickness. "If it's cold, you should go in."

"Nah," Frank says through a lungful of smoke. "S'not cold."

The slight hitch of Gerard's smile fades. "You're shivering."

Frank rolls his eyes. One shiver, maybe, and it didn't have anything to do with the chill. As if he's gonna fucking tell Gerard what the hell's going on in his head right now, Jesus. "Hey, man, if you're hungry, there's shit in the fridge. Ain't your gopher."

"Aw," Gerard says, and sucks back the last of his smoke. He grinds the butt out on the swing before flicking it carelessly into the wild grass. "Mikey picked up Rob Zombie's latest cinematic massacre. Wanna?"

"Hell yeah." Frank catapults off the seat, stumbling only slightly when the swing rocks out from underneath his foot. Like he planned it, he swoops around and grins. "You do the movie, I'm gonna grab some beer."

Flashing a quick, toothy smile, Gerard says, "Okay," and slides smoothly off the swing. The grass barely rustles beneath his socked feet as he heads for the house, eerily passing Frank by, a slice of night peeled off and made only vaguely human. Frank shivers again and jams his hands deeper into the hoodie's pocket. It's not the same at all without Mikey around.

*

Frank's lost count of how many times he's curled up on Gerard's bed with cheap booze and a good ol' classic slasher. He's even lost count of how many times Gerard's been tucked against his back in the light of the flickering television, arm slung over his waist. Three piss-water beers in, he's not drunk. But his skin's buzzing, his head's fuzzy, and his insides are all quivery like he is. Gerard's cool breath on his neck has his heart pounding so loud he's sure Gerard can hear it. Maybe even feel it thudding through Frank's back into his chest like the heartbeat he doesn't have anymore.

Something happens in the movie with a lot of screaming and a whole lot of blood. Frank isn't really paying much attention to what's going on except for the occasional twitch of Gerard's fingers against his belly. His tee shirt's been riding steadily up for the last ten minutes or something, so now there's this tiny, tiny sliver of skin bared, just enough for him to really feel the weird not-heat of Gerard's fingers hovering there. Goosebumps prickle all along his arms and legs as he stifles another shiver. He's not cold. He's so not cold.

Abruptly, the screaming stops. Frank's not sure what movie they're watching--the camera doing a loving slow-pan over the carnage and the overly-artistic arterial spray doesn't strike him as Zombie's style. He's not even sure he's seen whatever this is before. Gerard's gone still behind him, breathing fast and shallow. That's not really news--gallons of spilled blood, vampire, shit happens. Like watching porn, that kinda shit. Frank does not judge. But he does sorta try out a ninja shuffle, like he's fucking compelled to see if Gerard's really getting excited back there.

Gerard's hand goes tight on his hip. "Sorry," Gerard mumbles, scooting back, hunching in on himself like he's trying to shield Frank from his inappropriate blood-boner.

"Nah, no, c'mon," Frank says, tongue tripping over itself. He squirms around, half on his back, to shoot Gerard a lopsided, slightly guilty smile. "I wasn't, that wasn't like a hint, man. My leg's falling asleep."

There's this long, drawn-out moment where Gerard doesn't say anything. Doesn't even move. Then his eyes dart from Frank's face to his throat, and a rush of pure, molten heat spills out from Frank's belly. Gerard is checking him out, vampire-style. Like, if Frank had a rack, this is Gerard blatantly ogling it. Resisting the total, idiotic urge to fucking stretch his neck out, Frank concentrates on keeping his smile easy, his body loose, like he's not five seconds away from popping the most massive, sicko boner ever.

Gerard sits up so fast the bed rocks. "I need, uh, upstairs," he says, clambering over the mess of blankets and comics and random art shit they kicked to the foot so they could crash.

"Wait, wait." Foot tangled in a rouge sheet, Frank gives a hard kick and rolls off the bed, barely getting his feet beneath him in time. No wonder Gerard's acting weird, if he's hungry and there's all this fake blood all over the fucking place. It's natural. Or, like, unnatural, but whatever. It's instinct, not Frank and his, like, smooth virgin neck. "I'll get it."

Eyes wild and frantic, Gerard flaps a hand. "No, no, it's okay, I--"

"I said I'll motherfucking get it," Frank snaps. Gerard goes abruptly still and silent, corpse-quiet. It's creepy and strange and not at all like Gerard. "It's my fucking responsibility while Mikey's gone, okay? So I'll get it."

For a minute, Frank's sure Gerard's going to argue. But then the tension holding his shoulders too square and high eases, and just like that he's Gerard again, bad posture and stringy hair and mouth held in a crooked, uncertain line, hiding his teeth.

"Okay," Frank says, and pretends he doesn't see the flinch in Gerard's eyes when he gives the guy a reassuring pat on the chest as he trudges over to the stairs. "Seriously, okay?" he calls over his shoulder. "It's cool. I got it."

"Okay," Gerard echoes, his voice way too close, right at the foot of the stairs. Frank hadn't even heard him move. "Thanks, Frankie."

Upstairs, his stomach jittering, Frank digs out the last quarter of open blood and sticks it in the microwave, watching the mug turn. His brain's going round and round with it. It's not him. It's the blood. There's no way the single bag left in the fridge is gonna keep Gerard going until Mikey gets back.

Blindly watching the timer tick down, Frank thinks about heading to the butcher's on the corner by Maple on his way back from the dorms tomorrow. Then he jolts, hissing, "Shit," as he lunges for the microwave, slamming the button to pop the door. Fuck. Fuck. The blood's bubbling. He frantically waves a hand over it and blows hard to cool it down.

"Frank?" comes Gerard's voice, silky-soft and disconnected. Frank hisses another curse as a shadow detaches itself from the basement door and slowly resolves into Gerard's pale, concerned face.

"S'okay," Frank says, thumping his chest with a fist to make sure his heart's still going. He makes a face and hefts the mug. "Or I hope it is. I let it get too hot."

Gerard sniffs the air, pushing away from the door to cross the half dozen feet between them. It's seriously like watching a movie, his steps sure and quiet and way too smooth, like he doesn't even have bones anymore. "It smells okay," he says, gaze flickering everywhere--the mug, the crooked blinds on the window, the blinking timer on the microwave--anywhere but Frank's face. Or Frank's neck. He reaches out to carefully take the mug from Frank's hand, not letting their fingers touch. "Thanks."

"Welcome," Frank mumbles. Up here is bright, almost cheery with the light reflecting off the mid-80s sunshine yellow walls. But the longer Frank looks at the scuffed tile, the less normal it feels. Like Gerard's brought a slice of weird up from the basement with him, and the light goes from just right to too bright, unreal, so stark his eyes water.

When Frank manages to lift his gaze from the not-so-fascinating crack in the baseboard beside the fridge, blinking back strange, half-formed tears, it sticks on Gerard's lowered eyelashes black and thick against his pale cheeks. Then, like Frank isn't driving at all, his gaze slides down the bridge of Gerard's nose, falls off the slight upturn at the tip and lands square on his mouth half-hidden behind the mug.

The mug slips out of view. Gerard's mouth is red and wet, for real. Frank thinks about how disgusting it would be to kiss, and how he'd kinda do it anyway. Maybe he'd be able to feel Gerard's fangs through it. If he stuck his tongue in Gerard's mouth, for sure he would.

"Frankie," Gerard says. In a daze, Frank watches Gerard's hand come out, fingers catching on the hem of his shirt. "Come downstairs, Frankie."

Said the fucking spider to the fly. Frank goes.

*

Whatever Frank thinks is going to happen, he doesn't even fucking know. His head's spinning so fast, winding him so tight he's pretty sure he's going to snap. He trips twice on his way down the stairs, again as he blindly follows Gerard through the minefield that's his room to the bed, and a fourth fucking time when Gerard somehow ends up behind him and gives him a nudge, urging him to lie down. He crawls across the creaky mattress and settles down on his back, one arm tucked beneath his head and the other flopped on his belly in attempt to look like he's not having a total freak out. Gerard probably knows. Probably would no matter what Frank did. Able to, like, see it on his face or hear it in his thundering pulse or fucking smell it in his sweat, fuck.

Gerard sits on the edge of the bed, one leg tucked underneath him, mug balanced on his knee. He reaches a hand out really, really slowly, painfully slow, like he thinks Frank's gonna bolt, and lays it square on Frank's chest. There's a dark shadow by his knuckles that could be paint, or blood. He doesn't look up when he says, "I wouldn't hurt you."

"Jesus," Frank says, and moves to sit up. But Gerard's holding him down like Gerard doesn't even fucking know how heavy his hand is. "I know that, fuck. Don't be stupid."

"Frankie," Gerard says, like he's testing out the word, tasting it along with the blood clinging to his teeth. "I know you know. But I wanted to make sure, okay? Because I'm kind of messed up. I'm messed up, and maybe it's messing you up, and--"

"You don't wanna mess me up, okay, I get it." Gerard needs to shut up. Gerard needs to stop fucking moving his mouth. His stupid, stupid mouth that Frank's still thinking about kissing, because maybe it wouldn't be so bad to be hurt a little by Gerard. Gerard's still kind of holding him down, and it's making his heart beat faster, and starting a party in his pants he thinks might freak Gerard out more than he already is. Isn't that fucking rich. Frank's so fucking freaky he's potentially wigging out a fucking vampire.

A vampire who also happens to be bizarrely shy and earnest and so fucking sweet it actually does hurt. Christ, Frank wants Gerard to kiss him. Bam, just like that, he wants. Then maybe Gerard wouldn't be so nervous, or jittery, and would quit fucking staring at Frank like Frank's got the fucking key to all the secrets in the world.

Frank does a weird, slow-motion flail that ends with his hand on Gerard's tense thigh. "Gotta rewind the movie," he says, dumbly.

Gerard looks at the television like he'd forgotten it was there, or that televisions existed at all. "Right," he says, and starts rooting around jerkily for the remote. Finding it jammed halfway under Frank's lower back, he gingerly fishes it out, then points it at the screen while he scoots back, mug held high like that'll keep him from spilling, to settle against the wall by Frank's knees.

When the screaming starts up again, Frank still doesn't have a fucking clue what's going on.

*

Frank wakes to pure darkness and a heavy weight on his chest. He's got enough time to think What the fuck? and then it snuffles, burrowing closer, and his brain goes like a lightning bolt, Gerard. Gerard is sprawled out on top of him, face tucked into the crook of his neck, one leg slung over both of his, pinning him down. His heartbeat goes from a slightly concerned pitter-pat to an all-out adrenaline-fuelled thud-thud-thud in half a second flat.

With a weirdly kittenish noise--kittenish, what the fuck--Gerard noses in under Frank's chin, his breaths deep and slow. He's shivering--no, no, he's fucking trembling, and he's so heavy on Frank's chest at the same time as he feels like nothing at all beneath Frank's hand on his back, like he's only skin stretched over bones, wasted away, starved to a shell. He makes that noise again, way down low in his throat. Small and sad and hungry.

"Gerard," Frank says on a sharp, indrawn breath, garbled so bad it's barely a sound. His hand somehow ends up in Gerard's hair, awkwardly petting at the tangled mess, trying to soothe the worried pitch to Gerard's voice. "Gee, Gee, c'mon. Wake up. Wake up, I'll take care of you, I promise. Come on, Gee, please."

Frank can tell the second Gerard comes back to himself. He goes from this crazy mix of pliant and needy to board-stiff, his breathing cut off entirely. Before he freaks out, Frank wraps both arms around him as tightly as he can, holding on with everything he's got. He wants to say it's okay. Gerard didn't do anything. Nothing happened. But his voice is stuck in his throat so all he can do is hug the shit out of Gerard and hope it's enough.

"Frank," Gerard rasps, "Frankie, fuck, I'm sorry, sorry," and he tries to push up, away. Frank holds on even harder, kicking his leg free of Gerard's to clamp on like he's a freaking octopus. The harder he clings, the more Gerard struggles, until Frank remembers it's a fucking vampire he's wrestling with, a panicked one, and if they're not careful, somebody's gonna get hurt.

"Gerard, stop."

Gerard goes still with a quiet gasp.

"Okay," Frank says, but doesn't let up yet. He can handle this. He's gonna handle it. "I'm gonna let you go, and then I'm gonna go get you some breakfast." He has no idea if it's even close to dawn. They could've slept all through the morning into afternoon for all he knows. Time doesn't really exist in any normal way down here. "Don't freak out."

Hair brushes Frank's chin as Gerard silently nods. Not good enough, Frank thinks, and squeezes, like if he pushes hard enough he can make Gerard believe down to the bone that they're okay. He shivers in the cool rush as Gerard sucks in a lungful of air. "I won't freak out," Gerard says, carefully measured.

Right. That'll have to do. It takes an extra few seconds for the message to get from his brain to his arms, and when they finally loosen, Gerard doesn't move. "Stay right here, okay?" Frank says, waiting for Gerard's slow nod. "But not like, right on top of me, dude, I can't get up."

"Sorry," Gerard repeats breathlessly, and rolls off.

"Right here, though." Frank points at the bed. Gerard gives him another uncertain nod. Keeping an eye on him, Frank starts backing toward the stairs, shuffling shit out of the way with his heels as he goes. "Right there."

"Okay, Frankie," Gerard says, cowed like Frank fucking yelled at him.

At the top of the stairs, Frank checks for the sun's evil deathrays--or in his case, rays of stabbing blindness--and nudges open the door. The kitchen's almost as dark as downstairs. The timer on the microwave is still blinking, but the stove's clock says it's half past three. He has no idea when they conked out, but it for sure feels longer than the couple of hours it must've been.

Fishing the second donor bag out of the fridge is an adventure. Frank stumbles around with spots in his eyes getting a mug ready, standing by the microwave squinting at the countdown this time to make sure it doesn't overheat. When the timer goes off, he gives the mug a swirl and swishes his finger around in it to make sure it's warmed through. The blood doesn't even bother him this time. Funny how quick you can get used to shit.

On his way downstairs, he holds the mug carefully against his chest. There's only about two-thirds of the bag left. "Gerard?" he calls from the second-to-last step. "I think we gotta-- holy shit."

One pale hand catches Frank's elbow, the other closing securely around the mug. The blood sloshes alarmingly but doesn't spill. "Fuck," Frank says, hanging awkwardly in Gerard's hold, half on the stairs and half off. "You scared the fuck outta me, what the fuck."

"Sorry." Carefully, Gerard pulls the mug from Frank's grip, easing him down the last stair like he's somebody's grandpa. "I was worried. I thought you might-- Because of the blood, I know you don't like it, and I didn't want you to leave."

"I'm not gonna fucking leave," Frank snaps. Then he takes a deep, steadying breath. Yelling at the guy isn't going to help. "I mean it," he says, managing to tone it down. They had this stupid conversation months ago, Gerard talking in unsure, halting words, all fidgety and twitchy with Mikey looming over Frank ready to beat his ass to a pulp if he so much as dared hurt Gerard's feelings about it. Like Frank fucking cared. He'd been friends with Mikey for years; what shocked him the most was how Mikey had a fucking brother he never even fucking knew existed.

In retrospect, barging into the basement demanding to see Mikey's big dark secret hadn't been the smartest thing he'd ever done, but no way does he regret it. No way will he ever.

"I'm not going to leave," Frank repeats, like if he says it often enough, Gerard'll finally get it. "Drink your dinner, Lugosi, s'fucking late. I got class tomorrow."

Gerard flicks a glance at the bed. "You should go to sleep. I can watch a movie in Mikey's room."

"Like fuck no." Though Gerard's got maybe five inches and twenty pounds on Frank--not to mention the whole strength of the undead thing--Frank plants himself squarely in front of the stairs. Dawn's only a few hours away. "I've slept through worse than you puttering around at your painting shit."

The corners of Gerard's frown dig in deep. "But--"

"No," Frank says, forcibly turning Gerard around and frog-marching him through the clutter. "Draw shit. Or fucking cuddle me while you eat, I don't care, but you're not going upstairs."

When they get near the bed, Gerard's face is screwed up like he's gonna keep arguing. Frank says, "Augh," like, he actually fucking says it, and shoves Gerard down, barely noticing the blood that sloshes over the mug's rim to patter onto the sheets. Before Gerard can budge his stubborn ass, Frank sits on it. Or more like he scrambles onto the bed and flops over Gerard's lap, head pillowed on a thigh and one arm tucked awkwardly around Gerard's waist, the other looped around his knees, but whatever. Gerard's not going anywhere.

"I'm going to sleep," Franks announces, and closes his eyes with an air of finality.

Gerard hovers kinda twitchily, like he's busy trying to work shit out. As far as Frank's concerned, shit's already worked out. He makes an exaggerated sleepy noise just in case Gerard's thinking about lifting him off and sneaking upstairs. Apparently Gerard's never been a big sleeper, even before the whole vampire thing way back when. Frank figures that's what makes him so reverent and careful around other people when they're out for the count.

Frank doesn't actually fall asleep for a long time, his pulse tripping as Gerard combs gentle fingers through his hair in the dark. There's no noise at all down here, not Gerard's absent humming like when he's working, or even a restless shuffle of him getting comfy. Gerard doesn't breathe, and doesn't move, and the weight of his gaze doesn't lift.

*

"I'll be okay," Gerard insists for the billionth time. They're down to a quarter bag of blood and it's only Friday afternoon. Mikey's not gonna be back until Sunday. Could be late Sunday night, even.

"You totally will," Frank agrees, because lack of confidence in your vampire is not the way he wants to go with this. "But you don't have to, like, suffer it out, 'cause here I am." He shoves on his other shoe. "Goin' out to get m'boy some eats. And like, a clean shirt because man, this shit stinks."

"Borrow Mikey's," Gerard says, voice thin and edging high. He's clinging to the doorframe at the bottom of the stairs, pushed back by the thin lines of sunlight pressing against the basement door.

"Good idea." Frank stands up and hitches his jeans up over his ass, shrugging when they slip down again. Like he cares if his shorts are showing. "I'll grab one on my way out. Gonna look weird enough going to the butcher's for a bucket of blood, don't need to be a total slob."

"The butcher?" Gerard echoes. Frank has no idea where the fuck, or even how, Mikey comes up with enough human blood to keep Gerard fed. For awhile there, Frank thought Mikey drew it himself, or like, family helped out, but it's just him and Gerard. There's no way Mikey could keep Gerard going on his own. Which means Mikey probably steals it. Frank's not even going to attempt that shit. "What are you gonna tell them?"

Frank shrugs. "Vampire bat."

Gerard says, "Huh," like he thinks that might actually fly. Like hell Frank's telling anybody anything, unless some dick refuses to give him the goods without a damn good explanation. Since Gerard's not vetoing the whole animal thing, cow blood or human blood must not make a difference to him. The whole thing's maybe making Frank's skin crawl, but the idea of Gerard wasting away to a blood-starved, lifeless corpse is way worse. He's already starting to look a little grey around the eyes, and his lips look thin, brittle against the sharp points of his teeth.

"I'm gonna warm up what's left in the fridge for you before I go," Frank says. He's never seen Gerard like this. He'd also never seen Gerard so fucking creepy like he'd gotten last night, but then, it was sorta cool, too. Like it was the most alive Gerard's felt in months. "Back up, okay?"

Gerard gives a quick nod and vanishes from the doorway. There's even more shit on the floor today than there had been last night, but Frank can't hear a thing. "Safe," Gerard calls, from what sounds like the furthest side of the room.

"Freaky," Frank mutters, and turns around to trudge up the stairs. He calls out a second warning right before he opens the door, just in case, and squeezes quickly through.

The kitchen's kind of a disaster. Maybe Frank didn't have to get Gerard a fresh mug every time. But feeding the guy out of an old one coated with cool, weirdly-congealing blood is just gross. It's bad enough the stuff's probably days old and treated with who knows what the fuck to keep it from clotting before he zaps it with radiation.

"Ugh," Frank says, and fishes out the last clean mug in the place, getting it ready in between loading up the dishwasher. He totally feels way better about his decision to get some fresh stuff. It'll be like a treat. Frank is so Gerard's favourite.

That thought buoys Frank back down the stairs, hop-hop-hop the whole way. "Gerard," he singsongs, pushing aside thoughts of exactly where the blood he's gonna bring home comes from and instead focusing on how delighted Gerard's gonna be when he tastes some pure, untreated stuff, like the difference between diet soda and the kind made with real sugarcane. "Come 'n get it."

With no warning at all, Gerard is right fucking there. Frank could've sworn two seconds ago he was puttering at that painting of the three of them, but there he is, big, round eyes right in Frank's face, his cool fingers cupped around Frank's on the lukewarm mug. He's usually pretty pale, but up close like this, he's fucking pallid.

"Dude," Frank says, a little wheezy.

Gerard nods like he's suddenly a mind reader. Which would be really awesome, because then at least one of them would know what the fuck Frank's thinking. "It's really hot out, Frankie," Gerard says, way out of left field, as he presses closer. The mug's handle digs into Frank's sternum. Gerard's hand catches on the doorframe and slides up, his arm blocking the slivers of light creeping down from the kitchen. "You smell hot already. Did you open another window?"

"Uh, no?" Frank starts, and forgets what the fuck he was gonna say when Gerard drags in a slow, deep breath and shudders all the way from his toes to the tips of his fucking fingers. Gerard's mouth is slack, open, not even trying to hide his teeth. The height difference doesn't usually really register with Frank--everybody's fucking taller than him, whatever--but Gerard's fangs are staring him right in the face. And Gerard's fucking plastered against him, breathing slow and heavy and really, really deliberately.

Frank says, "Shit," and Gerard says, "Please," and yeah, okay, Frank's not really sure what Gerard's asking him, but it's not like Frank really even cares. He says, "Okay," hardly more than a whisper, then repeats it again, louder, maybe too loud, because Gerard jerks against him, surprised. "You, uh, you said please," Frank reminds him, kinda like a tool. "And I said okay, so, um, okay. Okay?"

"Okay," Gerard replies, maybe an answer, or like, confirmation. His fingers briefly touch the hinge of Frank's jaw, tilting his face up, and Frank thinks fuck fuck fuck fuck, just like that, right up until Gerard leans down and fits their mouths chastely together.

Frank makes some sort of weird, totally unsexy noise right against Gerard's mouth. Gerard either doesn't notice or doesn't care or maybe actually likes it, because he makes one back--totally sexy, though, kinda stuck between a whimper and a moan, and oh fuck yeah, Frank is the reason he's making that noise--and nudges Frank's mouth open. Frank goes with it, too stunned to do anything but follow Gerard's lead, standing there like an idiot clutching a mug full of cooling blood and letting Gerard lick inside his mouth. Then Gerard tilts his head a little, like he means to go deeper, and fangs scrape Frank's lip. Not enough to cut, or even to really sting, but wham, there they are. Frank is totally macking on a vampire.

"Fuck," Frank gurgles, super intelligently. With Gerard's tongue stuck in his mouth, it comes out more like, "Fnrgh," which hey, does a pretty good job summing up Frank's feelings on the matter. He surges up and shoves his tongue in Gerard's mouth without a single scrap of style. Gerard's surprised grunt feels weird caught between them but Frank presses forward, seeking out the hard, raised ridges of Gerard's fangs digging into his lips. It's so fucking messed up and unreal, and Gerard tastes really, really strange, a metallic tang to this weird sort of cool blankness, like making out with the midnight sky. It's awesome.

Gerard gets kind of hesitant then, like it's been so long since he last kissed somebody that he's forgotten what happens after that first sweet rush. Frank does his best to like, fucking man-up or whatever and remind him. Frank might not have a whole lot of experience but he's sure as fuck not virginal, and he knows that not quite dead but not quite alive, Gerard can still get it up. Which, oh fuck, totally reminds him that Gerard can get it up. Frank grabs onto Gerard's ass one-handed, this great big huge handful of it, and hauls him in tight. Gerard's hard. Really spectacularly packing heat, not just hey, we're making out, kinda interested. Frank has no idea how that even fucking works and he does not care. Like, at all.

The same as if Frank hit the go button, Gerard grabs onto his head with both hands and comes at him like it's a mission. Frank is oh so fucking good with that. He's still in it, totally present, but with Gerard calling the shots he's free to let his thoughts catch on Gerard's fangs, so sharp and so, so there. There's no mistaking those for anything other than what they are, and it's turning Frank's crank like nobody's fucking business.

A weird, grind-shift thing against Frank's chest makes absolutely zero sense until he remembers the mug he was supposed to be holding onto since Gerard isn't anymore. It lists sideways, spilling all down the front of Frank's shirt. He makes a clumsy grab for it, rescuing maybe half. "Shit, shit," he says. "Shit, I got it."

"Frank," Gerard moans, ridiculously, because Frank's name isn't the kind that sounds hot or sexy or even halfway decent in a long, drawn-out moan like that. But the unsexability of his own name is way down there on the list of important things to think about when Gerard's grabbing him by the shoulders to pin him against the wall and shove his face into Frank's bloody chest. Gerard nuzzles in, his nose all squished up and red smearing all over his cheeks and his chin. Like a slow-motion buildup Frank watches his mouth open and lips peel back, baring his fangs. All fucking eight of 'em. Gerard's wearing an old stretched out tee shirt and paint-spattered jeans and his hair's dirty, stringy, hanging in his blood-smeared face, and for the first time ever, he actually looks like a fucking monster.

"Fuck," Frank says, his eyes wide, so wide it feels like they're gonna pop out of his head. "Gerard, shit, are you-- What're you--"

Gerard bites. Really, really gently, barely even catching skin, Gerard bites down on a mouthful of Frank's ruined shirt. Frank can feel the push of Gerard's breath as he sucks, the drag as Gerard skims up, his tongue flat and cool through damp cotton. "I won't," Gerard mumbles, clutching at Frank's sides, "I wouldn't, I won't, Frank, Frank."

"Here," Frank says, his voice shot, raspy like a whole pack of cigarettes on top a forty of whiskey. He pushes at Gerard with an elbow, and when that doesn't even budge him, seizes a rough handful of Gerard's hair and yanks. Gerard comes up with a gasp, his teeth stained red and his eyes shocked, hurt. "No, no, here," Frank says, hurriedly pushing the mug up to Gerard's mouth, "I just want you to drink this. I'm sorry I spilled it. Drink it all, okay?"

Gerard's eyes are still wide and startled over the rim. "All of it," Frank repeats, tilting the mug up maybe too fast but holding it there, tightening his grip on Gerard's hair to drag his head back, make sure he gets every drop. The noise as Gerard's forced to gulp it down or choke is loud and obscene. Frank tips the mug higher.

"Fuck," Gerard snarls, tearing away. Twin rivulets of red spill from the corners of his mouth. "Fuck, Frank, fuck."

"I'll get more." Frank drops the mug, both hands shoved into Gerard's tangled hair to keep him from bolting the way it looks like he's gonna. "I'll get you the rest before I leave. You're okay, right?" He bumps his forehead against Gerard's. "Man, tell me you're okay."

Gerard croaks a noise that could be positive, Frank's not sure. He's a fucking mess. With an unsteady hand, Frank thumbs away the spilled blood, smearing it over Gerard's face with the rest. Frank is fucking this up so bad. But it's too late now, that ship has fucking sailed. If it's gonna be this way, then that's what it is. Steeling himself, he gives Gerard a soft, closed-mouth peck, doing his best not to notice the sticky texture of blood against his lips.

"You're not gonna come back," Gerard says, empty and certain, as he stares down at the stained mug on the floor.

"Fuck you." Frank gives him another kiss, slower than the first, somehow even softer. Because he gets to do this now. So what if he's not ready to taste someone else's blood mixed in with it. "And take a fucking shower."

One side of Gerard's mouth hitches up in a sour smile.

"Because you stink," Frank says, though it's not strictly true. Gerard doesn't smell like Frank would if Frank went a week without showering. Gerard's kind of got this musty odour thing going on. Like a room closed up too long, or sorta like a musk, something weirdly reptilian. Maybe it's a cold-blooded thing. It doesn't stink at all. "If I'm gonna come back here and kiss you some more, you better smell like fucking roses."

"Roses," Gerard says, wrinkling his nose. "I hate roses."

"Then, like, pomegranate, I don't fucking care."

"Fruit's good," says Gerard, sorta tentatively but mostly not. "Apples, Frankie. Fresh summer apples."

"Yeah." Giving the back of Gerard's neck a comforting squeeze, Frank scoops up the empty mug and toes at the bloodstain on the carpet. Wouldn't be the first one down here. "And don't insult me again, fucker. M'not gonna kiss and run."

Gerard smiles, like he's glad to have Frank cussing at him. He shrugs. "Sorry."

"Bet your ass you are." Before Frank can get distracted by stuff like, you know, Gerard's ass, he leans in for one more kiss. One for the road type deal. Gerard gives it to him, loud and smacking and ridiculous, like he's trying to play it off as totally okay if Frank comes back here and never touches him again. Sometimes, Gee's really, really dumb. But Frank's gonna let him get away with it for now, and then show him what's what later. Way later. Once Gerard's full and happy and thrumming again, like he was last night.

If Frank has his way, he's gonna keep Gerard like that forever.

*

Frank takes his time trudging up the hill on the way back. His knapsack weighs a ton, and the bag of apples he picked up from the market bangs around his knees. He already ate two on the bus. He wants another, but he's actually dying of thirst and more sugar, natural or no, is not gonna help.

So, his plan at the butcher's didn't really pan out, in the way where they didn't actually have the blood to give him, not that he was some sick fuck hellbent on carrying out satanic rituals with it.

("But, but what about blood pudding?" Frank tried. He knew that shit actually existed. Ray Toro came back one Christmas from visiting his family in New Hampshire and told him all about every disgusting detail.

"Sorry, kid," said the dude with the meat cleaver, and went back to hacking through a rack of ribs almost twice the size of Frank. Frank got the fuck out of there before he violated a health code.)

But that's okay. He's got a backup plan. And Mikey's got a seriously creepy array of medical supplies at the house. Frank did some snooping after he hopped out the shower, because while Gerard might appreciate his smell au natural, the rest of the world would probably take exception to him waving his BO everywhere, and then there was the whole looking like the victim in a horror movie thing with blood spilled all over him. Frank hadn't exactly packed for this weekend. He stole Mikey's deodorant, and his underwear, and pretty much everything else Frank's wearing, except for his kicks, and while he was poking around Mikey's closet, he found the solution to all their problems. Originally, he was gonna warm Gerard up with the stuff from the butcher's, ease him into the idea, just in case. But with that out the window, looks like now he's just gonna have to go for it.

Besides, if Mikey's got the equipment, then it must be something they at least occasionally do. Could be why Mikey was so reluctant to leave in the first place. How was he supposed to know Frank would be perfectly willing to open a vein for Gerard? It's not like they ever asked.

Frank is way more happy to open one of his veins than the carotid artery of some innocent, unsuspecting piglet. Poor little piglet.

At the front stoop, Frank calls out, "I'm home!" even though Gerard probably heard him stomping up the rocky drive. There's an eager thrill knocking around his ribcage as he dumps the homework he's so not going to touch until Sunday just inside the door. "Be down in a minute!"

An echo that sounds like, "'Kay, Frankie!" floats upstairs. Frank grins so wide his cheeks hurt. This is even better than bringing home untreated blood for Gerard.

Giving his hands a good wash in the sink with the antibacterial soap tucked in the cupboard, Frank digs out a clean dishtowel and dries off on his way to Mikey's room. He took all the stuff out of the closet and spread it out on another towel on the bed before he left. Looking at it now, it seems like a fairly simple set up. Bonus, he won't even have to try setting it all up on his own. Frank bites back an insane-sounding giggle. Walking Happy Meal; some assembly required.

Wrapping everything securely in the towel, Frank hollers a warning that he's coming down. Navigating the stairs after being out in the bright, bright sunlight takes some work, but he makes it alright. By the time he gets to the bottom, his eyes have pretty much adjusted.

Gerard's hovering right around the corner, waiting. His eyebrows scrunch together in confusion when he sees the bundle in Frank's arms.

"Chill," Frank says, shuffling over to dump it on the bed. "I got this."

"But I don't smell any blood," Gerard says, as if that isn't the freakiest thing Frank's heard all day. "You smell good, though, Frankie," he adds, smiling a tiny, dreamy smile.

"Better than roses," Frank agrees. Even he can smell the fresh air and sunshine and warm, clean sweat clinging to his skin.

Gerard sniffs delicately. "Like apples."

"I got this guy, right," Frank says, grinning stupidly at the little zing that goes through him as he says it. "Right, like, this guy. He says he likes apples. So maybe I had a couple for lunch."

Gerard gapes at him for like, two point five seconds, then says, "Oh, motherfucker," all breathy and sweet, and next thing Frank knows, Gerard's twisted up two handfuls of his borrowed shirt and yanked him up and in to kiss the shit out of him. Frank's cracking up through most of it, his toes barely touching the ground, but fuck, fuck, it's still so good. Gerard smells like something fruity, like, a cocktail, fruit salad, whatever, and his hair's still wet, wrapping in damp tendrils around Frank's fingers when he grabs at it. It's so freaking cool that they can just do this. Gerard is a basement-dwelling, blood-sucking fiend, and it doesn't even fucking matter. He's Gerard.

Stopping is kinda the last thing Frank wants to do, but, his plan. He wriggles free of Gerard's grip and goes up on his toes, bouncing a couple times trying to work some of the excitement out. "Okay. Okay. So. You're gonna love this." He holds up both hands, palm out, and pauses dramatically. Gerard always appreciates some quality drama. "You're gonna eat me."

Gerard's mouth falls open. Frank nods really fast. Then Gerard's face screws up, like he's not sure he heard Frank right, and he tugs distractedly at his hair. "What the fuck."

"No, no, c'mon." Frank pulls Gerard's hand free of wet snarls, and then, since he's already holding it and all, decides he should keep doing that. "Don't front, okay, I know Mikey does this for you sometimes. He's gotta. And I'm cool with it. I'm cool with all of it. Just, well, maybe not exactly the same way Mikey does it for you. If Mikey sticks his hand down your pants after he's fed you, dude, that is some shit I don't wanna know. And you should never, ever tell me."

"What?" Gerard tugs his hand free and starts flapping it around. "Back the fuck up. What?"

Frank tries three times to catch Gerard's flailing hands. After he misses on the third, he says, "Fuck it," and drapes his arms around Gerard's neck, stepping in close like they're slow dancing in middle school. Gerard freezes, arms stuck out all crazily. "I'm kinda planning on doing some really dirty shit with you, so I figure, least I can do is make sure you got the energy to keep up."

Gerard's face twitches like he's gonna giggle, but it dies somewhere in his throat. His hands slowly come to rest on Frank's hips, light, like he's afraid to hold on too hard. "You're not fucking around," he says, wonderingly.

"Nope," Frank says, and waggles his eyebrows. "Chow time, big boy."

With a groan that sounds like it's pulled up from the very pit of Gerard's stomach, Gerard pushes his face against Frank's neck. He mouths gently at the skin there, barely letting Frank feel his teeth at all. Frank shivers. Maybe one of these days, he'll be able to talk Gerard into doing it just like that. Straight from the source, still hot. The whole bit where Gerard drinks blood isn't so gross when it's Frank's they're talking about. He's not some stranger, or some unfortunate dead thing. He-- Yeah. There it is. He loves Gerard. That makes all the fucking difference in the world.

"Okay," Gerard says, and kisses Frank's throat, his jaw. It's hardly anything, barely the touch of lips to skin, but fuck, it feels so good. "Okay, if you're sure. You gotta be really, really sure, Frank. I can't do it if you're not sure."

"Motherfucker, I'm sure." Frank grabs onto the back of Gerard shirt and gives him a small shake. "I'm so fucking sure. And I'm sure that I'm gonna suck your dick after, how about that."

"Aw, shit," Gerard groans, muffled in the crook of Frank's neck. Frank giggles that same, insane giggle, mostly because it tickles but also because Gerard's kind of a flake. Frank is talking sex here. Full on, wham, bam, sex, and Gerard's gone all weird and bashful on him.

Frank nudges Gerard up with his shoulder. "C'mon, c'mon. Let's do it. I got supplies and everything. Even pumped up my blood sugar for you."

Gerard goes still. He breathes, "Fuck, Frankie, you're gonna taste like apples," and shudders, clutching hard at Frank's back. His lips drag wetly over Frank's skin, come back for a slow, smooth slide, and then it's Gerard's teeth, Gerard's fangs, curved and pointy and razor-fucking-sharp, sinking in.

"Fuck!" Frank barks, more shock than pain. His spine snaps straight, his hands curling into fists so tight his knuckles crack. For a second, he doesn't get it. Like, he can process that Gerard's bit him, is in the fucking process of biting him, for real, but it doesn't compute. He brought supplies. Needles wrapped up in crinkly, sterile packaging, and tape and tubing and cotton swabs and all that shit, so they could be safe about it, and monitor Frank's blood pressure, and all the things he thought he'd have to trot out to convince Gerard it was perfectly fine to drink his blood.

Except Gerard doesn't need convincing, or excuses, or even a reason. All Gerard needed was an invitation.

Frank says, "Holy shit," in this thready, creaky kinda voice, and shivers as Gerard's tongue prods at shallow wounds. At least, they feel shallow. He hopes they're shallow. Stitches are not his most favourite thing ever, despite how many times in his life he's ended up with them.

Gerard hums agreeably, his hands coming up to grip Frank's arms a little below the shoulder, fingers digging in. "Yeah," he says, voice thick, wet-sounding. Frank's blood is in his throat, making him sound like that. "Yeah, just-- Sit down, Frankie? Sit down for me."

Groping for a grip on the bed, or like, fucking reality, Frank sits on the very edge of the mattress. He wants to touch his throat, make sure he's not bleeding out or something crazy, but Gerard's face is still there, and Gerard's still kissing him, gentle, soft little sucks right over the wound. He scoots back when Gerard urges, his brain offline, body on autopilot. Gerard bit him.

"I shouldn't," Gerard says, fingers curling in the hem of Frank's shirt, lifting it up high, as he steps in between Frank's spread knees. "You shouldn't let me, but you said I could. Frank." Gerard presses his face against Frank's bare belly and sucks in a shuddering breath. "Frank, Frankie, lie down. Stretch out. Let me."

"Oh man," Frank says, rusty as an old iron gate. He lets Gerard tug his shirt off, then, when Gerard's pale, pale hands spread out over his chest, lets Gerard push him down. There's blood, his blood, smeared around Gerard's mouth. He watches in some kind of fucked up daze as Gerard crawls on top of him, fucking prowls, sinuous and slow and fucking punch-in-the-face hot. Shoving up on his elbows, Frank scrambles further back, giving Gerard more space.

Something uncertain flickers through Gerard's eyes. He stops, hovering above Frank on his knees.

"S'not enough," Frank says, fingers twitching as blood trickles down his neck. It tickles and he wants to wipe it away, but Gerard needs it. Swallowing hard, he turns his head to the side. Maybe it's not what he had in mind, but fuck it, it'll do the trick. "Go again, c'mon."

Gerard says, "Frank," like a prayer and drops over him, wet tongue dragging up the side of his neck. Then, "Frank," again, softer, still so reverent, when he slides down, kissing the slant of Frank's collarbone, leaving a red smear in his wake as his teeth scrape past Frank's nipple to the meatier rise beside it. He mouths at it slowly, eyes glittering beneath the tangled fall of his hair, giving Frank time to say no this time as he bares his fangs, gets ready to bite.

"Fuck me," Frank grunts, strangled, and grabs at Gerard's hand. Strong fingers, deceptively long and slender and delicate-looking, lace tight with his. He arches his back, shoving up against Gerard's mouth, not really an invitation anymore. Now he's fucking asking for it.

This time when Gerard bites down, he's ready for it. Still doesn't fucking matter. The shock shoots straight through him, pain, because yeah, okay, that hurts, but something else, too. Like the rush when Frank's under the needle, the bright spark of a piercing coupled with the slow-burn build of getting inked, both of that hitting him at once. Jesus, if he'd only fucking known.

"Shit," Frank gasps, squirming away from the pull as Gerard sucks at his chest. "Shit, shit, lemme breathe, holy fuck."

Gerard flicks him a glance, the smile half-hidden against Frank's stomach glittering in his eyes. "Breathe," he says, kissing Frank's side, drawing Frank's arm up as he goes from rib to rib with small, nipping kisses, all the way up to the fleshy curve of Frank's underarm. "Are you breathing yet, Frankie?"

"No," Frank wheezes, twisting his free hand up in the sheets, then thinking better of it and getting a handful of Gerard's hair instead. Gerard's eyelashes flutter, his moan humming against Frank's skin. "But keep going anyway?"

"Yeah," Gerard whispers, and bites him again, right there where it's so fucking tender Frank shouts, and again, all the way down on his side where his ribs end, taken over by the softness of his belly. Gerard's there so quick and gone again, biting below Frank's belly button where his jeans have slid down. They're shallow bites, barely bleeding once Gerard stops sucking, but they all pulse hot in his wake, peppered all over Frank like stars, like Gerard's mapping out constellations in fang and flesh.

A sharp tug on Frank's fly brings him swimming back up through the haze. "Oh fuck," he says, staring at the fuzzy black shadows of the mural above Gerard's bed. He feels exactly like one of those exploding suns. He's pretty sure he is going to explode when Gerard's hair brushes his belly, Gerard's hands pushing into his jeans, curving around to touch his bare ass. He hikes his hips up, shivering when Gerard laughs this delighted, wicked laugh.

Frank flips him off, making him laugh harder.

"Frankie," Gerard says, for like, the billionth time, like he's never going to get tired of saying it, ever, no matter how many different ways he tries. "You're so fucking hot. And you don't even give a shit, it's amazing. You taste so good."

"Haven't even gotten to the best part yet," Frank says, wiggling his hips again to get Gerard back with the program. Though maybe in Gerard's case they started with the best part.

Gerard glances down and grins, all his red bloody teeth on display. Frank's heart gives one hard kick. "Wait," Frank says, grabbing for Gerard's hair again and missing; fucker's god damn fast when he wants to be. "Don't bite my dick. Do not bite my dick. Gerard, not my dick!"

"Trust me," Gerard says, nosing at Frank's balls. He tugs at Frank's jeans and underwear until they catch on his Chucks, and then Gerard bares his teeth in a snarl and yanks the whole works off in one go, probably taking a few layers of skin off Frank's ankles with it. And maybe a few years off Frank's life, because Gerard's teeth are sharp and scary and deadly and they are way, way, way too close to Frank's junk.

"I absolutely trust you," Frank says, trying to sneak a hand down to protect the merchandise. "But I get that it'd be tempting, right? With all that, uh, blood." Because, wow, fangs right there or not, Frank is impressively hard. Which he knew, okay, he can fucking feel it, throbbing in time to his pulse, but he's so hard his skin's shiny-taut beneath the precome leaking from his slit, and he's flushed dark, so dark, really fucking startlingly dark beside Gerard's pale face.

Gerard says, "I'd be careful," as he slinks up, "so careful, Frankie," as he licks at the tip, his tongue warmer now, like Frank's blood is heating him up from the inside out. "I'll never hurt you." He bites his lip, fangs denting flesh, and quickly ducks his head, saying, "Not any way you don't want," with his teeth grazing the inside of Frank's thigh.

Without any sort of input from Frank, his legs fall wide open and his hips come up, pushing into the lukewarm heat of Gerard's mouth. Gerard laughs again, satisfied--of course he's fucking satisfied, Jesus Christ, Frank is being a total slut here--and nips at skin, catching it between his teeth not quite hard enough to pierce. Frank goes really, really still, breath caught in his throat.

When all Gerard does is lick between the points of his teeth, Frank ekes out, "There?"

Gerard's got total bedroom eyes going on. "Mm," he says, not letting go.

"Oh man." Frank covers his face with both hands. He sets his shoulders and tries to steel the molten mess that's his spine. Every single bite Gerard's left on him throbs. He has no fucking idea what to expect here. "Okay, like, for real, there?"

Both of Gerard's hands skim up Frank's legs, pushing them even further apart. The strain travels up his hips straight to his dick, making it jerk against his belly, spill out more wet warmth. Gerard releases the thin layer of skin he'd caught and opens his mouth wide, sucking hard to make flesh mound in his mouth, pressed tight against the edges of his teeth. He's still watching Frank's face with super-crazy focus. Like, if Gerard were a laser beam, Frank would be toast. Frank is toast.

"Oh god," Frank says, "oh shit, fuck, okay," and grits his teeth because Gerard's are sinking in. It's like fucking pop rocks going off inside Frank's belly, this hard, jittering thrill, which makes no fucking sense at all. And then, when Frank maybe thinks he's got it figured out, or at least a handle on it, Gerard's hand ends up on his cock. Tight, stuttering, but it's Gerard's hand on his cock and it feels so good Frank's palms slam down on the bed and his entire body from shoulders to knees arches up off it. He thinks he shouts something, probably Gerard's name or a whole lot of cursing or hey, probably both, because Gerard's jacking him firm and fast, concentrating close to the head like he wants Frank to come fucking yesterday, and sucking hard on the wound he opened up on Frank's thigh. Everything's these long, steady pulls, on his dick and his blood, and Gerard's moaning, low and guttural and animalistic, fucking feeding on him. Frank gets one blurry look at Gerard's face, like he's a camera with a busted flash so all he gets is the vague imprint of hollowed cheeks and dark, dark eyelashes on white skin, a smear of red and the tangle of black hair, and that's what's burned into the blackness behind his eyelids as he squeezes his eyes shut and comes.

"Fuck, Frank," Gerard says, or maybe has been saying for awhile. He's stopped sucking on Frank's thigh and is just licking at it, almost daintily, rubbing his fingers over the sharp juts of Frank's hipbones and up over his belly, smearing away the come dripping down Frank's side before it can reach one of his bites.

"Aim's off," Frank croaks, grinning, because fuck yeah, he sounds as wrecked as he feels. "Gonna get your face next time."

"Okay," Gerard says, just like that, happily, and like he fucking means it. He slides up, his mouth a gruesome mess of red, and Frank thinks, yeah, yeah, okay, I'd kiss that, before he cranes his neck up, putting the offer out there. Gerard's mouth falls open and he absently tongues the point of a fang, all his attention on his hand splayed on Frank's chest, grazing a sluggish trickle of blood.

Frank arches an eyebrow. "Still hungry?"

"Always," Gerard admits, straddling Frank's hips. He keeps one hand on Frank's chest as he thumbs open his jeans. "I can't remember ever being not hungry. It's constant. This nagging ache, always, in the pit of my stomach." He sinks down lower, his head falling forward, voice hitching as he reaches inside his open fly. "You make it better, Frankie. It's still there, but it feels good now." He glances up, briefly, tongue skimming along his bloodied lip in a quick, darting flick he probably doesn't even realise happened. "Like something I want."

Frank grips Gerard's thighs, squeezing hard. His heart's thudding so loud in his ears he can barely hear what Gerard's saying, but fuck, it's like he can feel the words all the way down to his bones. He gets it. As much as he's ever gonna get it, he does. "Come on," he says, fingers stroking restlessly along Gerard's inseam, up to tug at his fly. "Let me see, lemme see."

Sucking in a breath, more muscle memory than need, Gerard pulls his dick out. It's strangely pale, like the rest of him, barely flushed at all, but he's hard. And leaking, glistening slick. He rubs his thumb through the precome beaded at the tip, mixing it with Frank's come already spilled over his fingers. He goes at it hard and fast, same as he'd jacked Frank, cockhead slipping through the tight tunnel of his fist. Frank gets a hand over his, over the shift of tendon and bone, then rubs his palm over the slick head, wanting to really feel him.

"Shit," Gerard hisses, abruptly letting go, "do it, Frankie, do it for me, please, please, just like that," and Frank grips tight, the first few strokes a little clumsy, and then it's better, faster, exactly what Gerard wants. Gerard hunches over him, these short, choppy noises escaping him, his arms shaking and his voice breaking in the seconds before he loses it. Frank stops dead, floored--fuck, that was fast, and god, Gerard really is gorgeous, like, monstrously gorgeous, so fucking crazy--and Gerard moans, fucking into Frank's loose fist, still coming.

"Sorry, sorry, fuck," Frank says, tightening his grip again, pumping Gerard through it. This time he doesn't stop until Gerard collapses against him, panting like mad, which makes no sense, it doesn't, the guy doesn't fucking breathe.

"Can I kiss you," Gerard slurs, laying a shaking hand against Frank's cheek, "Frank, can I?"

"Fucker," Frank says, because that's a stupid fucking thing to ask, and turns his head for the clumsiest, most lopsided, probably most perfect kiss of his fucking life. He doesn't care that it tastes like his blood. Gerard needs that blood. Gerard wants it.

Worming his hand free from the crush of their bellies, Frank hugs Gerard close. All the useless air flows out of Gerard's lungs in a warm rush, cooling the sweat on Frank's face. So Gerard's kind of an unconventional guy. Whatever. Frank can do unconventional.

Frank is gonna do it in fucking spades.

*

"Shit," Gerard says, peeling off another long strip of medical tape and ripping through it with his fangs. "Shit, shit, Mikey's gonna be here any minute."

"Chill," Frank mumbles around the gauze caught in his teeth. He's holding the other end steady against the inside of his elbow so Gerard can tape it down. Gerard didn't wake up starving this morning, just frisky. Frank grins stupidly. Really frisky. And like, eager. And enthusiastic. He didn't even go for a bite until Frank was a boneless lump of fucked-out jelly, and then it was only these tiny little nips along Frank's forearm, like maybe he thought he had to warm Frank up to the idea.

Five hours later, Frank's got three new bites--the one on his elbow, one on the back of his thigh where leg meets ass (which is actually a total pain, now that he's got it, but getting it had been a hell of a good time), and one on his groin, about an inch and a half above his dick. That one was crazy. Crazy.

Gerard keeps patting the tape down kinda neurotically, staring hard at it like he can will it to stick, and Frank slumps sideways on the bathroom counter, sweaty back skidding over the mirror. He is so trashed. "M'trashed," he tells Gerard, smiling goofily when Gerard's worried face pops back into view. "So worth it."

"You look trashed," Gerard says softly, concerned, yeah, but also kinda proud. Or smug, maybe, as he helps Frank down off the counter, cradling him close. Like it appeals to his innate creature-of-the-nightness to have trashed a willing victim. Frank snorts a laugh. He is absolutely willing. He's also willing to make Gerard carry him to fucking bed.

"Oof," Gerard says, swaying. He hitches Frank's legs up higher around his waist, holding tight to Frank's ass. "'Kay, okay. I got you."

"I got you, babe," Frank singsongs into Gerard's neck, making Gerard giggle and say, "You did not," but Frank can feel the waves of happy satisfaction rolling right off him. It's more than the blood. Sure, that's a big part of it, because fuck if Frank's ever seen this big, permanent smile plastered to Gerard's face before, or the almost rosy glow to his cheeks. Seriously. Gerard's still one cold, pale motherfucker, but it's different now.

"Aw, we're gonna cuddle," Frank says when Gerard lays him out on the bed. His stomach swoops ridiculously. Hell yeah he wants a cuddle. He sticks his arms straight up in the air until Gerard giggles again and clambers over him, settling down with his head pillowed on Frank's chest. His hair smells like cigarette smoke, some of it clumped together with dried bits of Frank's blood and probably come. Frank idly picks at a snarl.

Gerard carefully touches the edges of one of the bites on Frank's chest. "You're amazing, Frankie," he says in this awed voice generally reserved for mint, limited edition, still-in-the box shit, the kind that's so rare it's like not only spotting a fucking unicorn but having one walk straight up to you and ask if you'd maybe like to pet it for awhile, and then it goes and says that hey, nothing would make it happier than if you could please climb on its back for a ride.

Frank grins so hard his lips sting. He thinks maybe he might've nicked them on Gerard's fangs. "I would so take you for a ride."

Gerard gives him a one-armed squeeze and says, "Anytime," kinda dirty but mostly kinda sweet.

"Man," Frank says, his voice hazy and distant in his ears. "Man, I love you," and it's easy, so easy, because it just is. And probably because he passes right out three seconds later, grinning at Gerard's shocked face.

*

"Frank!" somebody shouts, like, right in Frank's fucking ear. He grunts a curse that comes out more like a wheeze and seriously tries opening his eyes, but it's like he's drugged. Sex drugged, maybe. Or like, it could be blood loss, which, whatever. He'll eat more fucking spinach or something. Like Popeye. Arr.

"Frank, fuck, Frank. Frank. Gerard."

"Mikey?" comes Gerard confused voice.

There's a big ol' stomping racket and some more confused shouting. He'd get up, but a) sex drugged and b) Gerard's flaked out on top of him. Not only does the combination make it almost impossible for him to move, it doesn't really make him inclined to. He ignores all the noise and lets delicious sleep drag him back under.

Until Gerard indignantly squawks, "I wouldn't cuddle his corpse!" and okay, that's interesting enough that Frank sluggishly opens his eyes.

"You're not dead," Mikey says, staring down at him.

"Only mostly dead," Frank slurs around a giggle.

"Gerard, what did you do."

"Nothing!" Gerard yelps, and clings harder to Frank like he thinks Mikey's gonna try to wrestle him off or something. Frank gives Gerard's ass a comforting pat. He's going nowhere. Except possibly the bathroom, once he can get around to it. "He's fine. I've been listening to his heartbeat, Mikey, he's okay."

"Gee," Mikey says, stern and gentle with that crazy frantic undertone like he's in the middle of a bonafide freakout. "Gee, let him go. Let me make sure."

"He's fine," Gerard says, only not as sure this time. Mikey's totally unnecessary worry is infecting him.

"Frank is a-okay," Frank says, aiming for Mikey's shoulder but ending up awkwardly patting the side of his face when Mikey leans down to listen, his thumb knocking Mikey's glasses askew. "Frank is like, post-coital, Mikeyway."

"What, ew," Mikey says on reflex. Then he seems to remember he was in the middle of something and demands, "Somebody tell me what the fuck is going on."

"Gerard got hungry," Frank says when it looks like all Gerard's gonna do is cling and hide. Honestly, Frank's kinda digging it. It makes him feel all big and protective and important. Like he really could be the way Gerard painted him. "I took care of it."

Mikey stumbles back from the bed. He's not looking very Mikey-like right now, with his eyes huge behind his lenses and his mouth hanging open but no sound coming out. Frank's never seen Mikey genuinely freaked the fuck out before. Struggling up, and keeping a sure hand on the back of Gerard's neck so Gerard doesn't start freaking out and turning this into a total Way-brothers freak-out fest, Frank says, "Dude, breathe. We're like, fully-consenting self-aware adults here. Everybody's okay."

"He's addicted to blood," Mikey states in his usual monotone, which is just the fucking freakiest shit ever coupled with the way his eyes are bugging out. "Addicted to it, Frank. You're a walking, talking crackpipe."

Huh, Frank thinks. That's one way of looking at it, he guesses. The way that makes his chest hurt and his stomach churn and his skin go cold and clammy like he's got the night sweats.

"What the fuck," Gerard says, teeth bared. At Mikey. "You take that back. Frank is not a fucking crackpipe."

"You ate him," Mikey says flatly.

"He offered!" Gerard's fingernails are digging tiny, hot crescents into Frank's chest. "He kissed me, Mikey." Frank must make a sound, because ow, nails, and Gerard's voice instantly softens. "Sorry," he says automatically, loosening up. Then, "He kissed me," all quiet and wondering.

"And jerked you off," Frank adds. If Mikey's gonna be a dick, then so is Frank. "Next time I'm gonna suck you off, ha." Take that, Mikeyway.

"Frank," Mikey says, too seriously. Frank's in trouble if sex talk about his older brother isn't grossing Mikey out to the point of distraction. "Frank, Gerard's a vampire."

"No shit," Frank grumbles. This is not the happy homecoming he'd imagined. They did good, him and Gerard. They are good. "You keep on stating the fucking obvious, Way."

"Wait, no," Gerard says, staring down at the blankets. "Quit it, Frank, he's right. I shouldn't've-- Even if you-- Well, I shouldn't have."

Frank scrubs both hands over his face really rough and fast. "Are you two fuckers seriously trying to tell me it's better if you keep fucking stealing bad blood for him, even though I know it's gotta taste like shit and it isn't good for him and what the fuck, okay?" He kinda loses steam there, when the thought of Gerard becoming vague and distant and not really himself anymore hits. Because there's no way Frank's blood turned Gerard into something he's not. It just let him be who he already is.

"Both of you shut up," Frank says. Gerard shuts up so fast his fangs click. Mikey just goes all silent and like, foreboding. Looming. Dude, did Gerard get that one right in his painting. "Whatever the fuck you think is gonna happen, ain't gonna happen. At all, like, ever."

"Again," Gerard says, still talking to the rumpled sheets. "It won't happen again."

Cold sweat prickles at the base of Frank's spine. He doesn't want to know. Possibly he doesn't even need to know. "Um," he says.

"He bit me once," Mikey says, miraculously sounding bored and so over it, even though he's really obviously not. "The first time he tried detoxing."

"He means, I, uh, I used to drink a lot more," Gerard says, scratching worriedly at his scalp. "Blood, I used to drink a lot more blood. Maybe too much? And we ran out, and I, I guess I panicked, and I didn't ask." He tugs at his hair, snarling it around his fingers, his gaze on the floor. "I stopped when I realised what I was doing, but. I attacked him, Frankie."

"You can't fucking detox off food," is the first thing Frank blurts. It's the only part he can fucking process. Gerard, so scared and hungry, that he attacked Mikey. What the fucking fuck. "That's just, that's stupid. That's so fucking stupid."

"Blood isn't food," Gerard says, biting at his own lip hard enough skin splits.

Frank opens and closes his mouth a couple times. He's like, fucking raging inside. He shoves off the bed and stomps his way through the crap on Gerard's floor, probably crushing all kinds of important shit but he's gotta get this energy out somewhere or he's seriously gonna start throwing punches. "What the fuck is the matter with you two? No, no, shut the fuck up," he snaps, pointing a finger at Mikey. "You need blood to survive, right? Gerard?"

Gerard's gaze hops around the room, avoiding eye contact. "Yes. I think so. I mean, yes. I do."

"Okay. So that makes it food."

"I-"

"Shut up," Frank hisses through clenched teeth. "Okay, so, if it's food, and you stopped fucking eating for I don't know how long--"

"A week," Gerard says, because it's impossible for him to actually shut up for longer than five seconds.

"A week," Frank echoes, "of course you-- Wow. That was so dumb I can't fucking even. I thought you guys were smart."

Gerard's the one who says, "It was really scary. Like I wasn't even me anymore."

Maybe Frank's not taking this as seriously as he should be. Maybe he's never going to understand, because he wasn't there. But then again, maybe it's 'cause he wasn't that he can see all the shit so clearly. "Are you hungry right now?" Frank asks Gerard. "Like, do I look like a three-course meal to you?"

"Well," Gerard says, poking at the blankets. "Kinda? But more in the way where I'd like to, uh, have it later?"

Okay, not as good as Frank had been hoping, but he'll work with it. "There," he says to Mikey. "No worries. I'm a keeper."

"But I could," Gerard says, not helping at all. "And, actually, um. The more you talk about it, the more I kinda really want to?"

"Are you gonna?" Frank asks, point-blank. Might as fucking well.

"No," Gerard says, and Mikey says, "But he could."

"I could totally punch you in the face right now, too, Mikeyway, but I'm not gonna."

"Not really the same thing, Frank," Mikey says, but it's easy to tell his heart's not in the argument anymore. His shoulders are hunched and his hands are in his pockets and he's got this really suspicious twitch going on at the corner of his mouth. And that's when Frank figures out he doesn't want to be right. That maybe Mikey's been hoping for something like this to come along. Probably not the whole gay-best-friend-boning-his-brother part of the equation, but something that works for Gerard, something that's good for him. Someone.

Frank grins. He totally won. His logic is fucking impeccable like that. "Okay!" he says, and claps his hands together really loudly. "All settled. Awesome. Mikey, go away. Or no, wait. Make me a salad."

Mikey stares at him blankly. Gerard looks around wildly, blurts, "I'll get it!" and slides off the bed really super smoothly, halfway to the door before Frank can get through the sudden shot of panic driving his heart up into his throat to tackle him.

"It's daylight," Mikey says, still in that same flat voice.

"Oh," Gerard says, stopping short. "Fuck." He rakes a hand through his hair. "I really wanted to."

Frank can't help it. There's this giddy, oh god so good feeling bubbling up in his chest, drowning out the apparently not-entirely-illogical fear of Gerard being distracted enough to stumble into the fucking sun. When it reaches his throat, he says, "You love me," like a total tool. But he's okay with that. Gerard wants to make him a salad.

Gerard smiles really widely, not caring at all that he's showing his fangs all the way to the gums. "I do love you, Frankie," he says, ridiculously calmly, like he's telling Frank about the weather.

"Oh man, oh man." Frank stumbles over a pile of laundry as he shoves at Mikey's boney shoulders. "Mikey, dude, you gotta go. Or fuck, I don't care, you can stay, but I'm gonna stick my hand down your brother's pants and probably put his dick in my mouth and maybe you might not wanna be around to see that shit."

"I do not want to be around to see that shit," Mikey echoes, plodding ahead of Frank toward the stairs. At the bottom, he pauses. "Somebody text me in a half hour though, okay?"

"Okay, Mikey!" Gerard calls from behind them. "I love you too, bye!"

"Oh god, you guys," Mikey says, and thumps up the stairs as Frank gets his hands on Gerard's fly.