It had big eyes.
That was finally the excuse Gerard used, when everyone found out. It had big pleading eyes, and it was hungry and dripping in the rain, looking up at him like he was the best thing that had ever happened to it. So he'd fed it a chicken finger. And then when it curled up in his lap, its big muddy paws making prints all over his uniform, he gave it another one, and watched it munch contentedly, eyes narrowing to happy little slits as it nuzzled his shoulder. Its head was all feathery and soft when he petted it, and its wings fluttered against its back when he scratched between its shoulderblades.
When he put it back down and tried to leave, he turned to find it hovering at eye level, wings flapping, eyes looking just as big and round as Frank's did when he really wanted something.
Those eyes were the reason My Chemical Romance found themselves with a pet griffin.
He kept it in the bathroom in the back lounge, the one no one ever used. He fixed up a little nest of pillows and blankets in the tub, and it curled up in them, burrowing into the blankets and peeking out at Gerard until he leaned over and scratched behind its ears.
He meant to keep it a secret, but there are only so many things one can hide on a tour bus, and a baby griffin is not really one of them. Gerard came in one day to find it sitting in Mikey's lap, the two of them staring intently at each other. Gerard started to say something, but Mikey waved a hand at him. "Shh," he said. "I think I'm winning."
The griffin blinked first.
Frank would play catch with it when they stopped at rest stops, throwing things as far as he could, and watching the griffin flying after them, landing on its oversize paws and more often than not tumbling head over heels into Frank's legs. It was still in the galumphing puppy stage (or whatever the griffin version of a puppy was. they'd tried to research, but the internet was surprisingly unhelpful on how to care for your baby griffin), and it moved clumsily, especially on the bus when it was in motion. Usually then, he'd curl up in Gerard's bunk, or sprawl out behind Bob on the couch, making contented little snuffling noises when Bob would lean back and use it as a pillow.
It was fascinated with Ray's hair. It would sit beside him and stare intently until he moved a particular way, and it would stand up, wings flapping to keep its balance as it clapped its paws and tried to catch a piece of Ray's hair between them. Ray would smile indulgently and tug its tail in front of its face until it started chasing that instead.
"You can't keep it," Brian said over the phone after Mikey had emailed him pictures of it riding around on Frank's shoulders.
Of course we're not going to keep it, Gerard tried to say, but what came out was "It makes Mikey smile," instead.
He could practically hear Brian shaking his head, and when he hung up, the griffin was sitting on the kitchen counter, trying to stick its beak into Gerard's coffee, and looking at him with a puzzled expression.
"You know," Gerard said, "living on a tour bus is really no kind of life for you." The griffin huffed at him, jumped off the counter, and rolled around on the floor wrestling with a game controller for a while.
Gerard and Ray were the ones who took care of it, most of the time. Ray would feed it when he got up in the mornings, and it slept with Gerard, curling up against his side and twitching a little as it dreamed. Frank would take it to shower with him, and when it came back, it would be damp and cuddly, pressing up against everyone's legs until Gerard would towel it down and brush out its coat, running his fingers through the delicate feathers on its wings and head.
"You're going to be a good dad," Ray said one day, watching the griffin squirming around in Gerard's lap as he petted it through a towel, then looked totally horrified that he'd actually said that out loud.
Gerard beamed, and was distracted enough that the griffin was able to wiggle away from him and flap across the room to land on Ray instead. Gerard tossed him the towel, and Ray wrapped it around the squirming little animal, toweling vigorously until it was a puffy ball of fuzz in his lap.
"You too," Gerard said, and they sat there grinning dopily at each other over the griffin's head until Mikey walked onto the bus, crossed between them, announced, "I'm going to go have phone sex with my wife," and disappeared into the bunks.
Gerard was a little traumatized by that, so Ray distracted him by putting in a horror movie and letting Gerard curl up with his head in Ray's lap. The griffin stretched out on top of him and dozed off like a sleepy blanket, and Gerard drifted in and out of sleep to the sound of its tiny snores and the feeling of Ray's fingers stroking through his hair.
He almost thought it was part of the movie when he heard Ray talking about the days when they'd sit and do this in Gerard's basement, the two of them wrapped up together under blankets, passing beers or mugs of coffee back and forth between them. But he could feel Ray's voice through his body, and that was how he knew he wasn't imagining it when Ray said that he remembered the time Gerard had kissed him.
They'd been a little drunk, a lot exhausted, leaning against the headboard and flipping channels while they talked about the show they'd played that night. Ray had been complaining about something he'd done wrong, and Gerard had just wanted to make him feel better, just wanted to stop him from having that awful unhappy sound to his voice, so he'd leaned up and pressed their mouths together, just to keep Ray from saying anything more. Ray's hands had been warm and solid against his back, pulling him onto Ray's lap, tugging them close together, and they'd eventually fallen asleep like that, wrapped around each other and kissing lazily under the covers.
In the morning, Ray had acted like he didn't remember.
"You were drunk," he said now, staring at the tv instead of at Gerard. "I didn't want to be that guy."
"You're not," Gerard said, "you were never that guy," and he sat up to kiss him, startling the griffin off the couch. It sulked away to go find someone else to cuddle with, while Gerard and Ray pulled a blanket over them and thoroughly ignored the rest of the movie.
It was Bob who finally figured it out, after telling Brian very earnestly over the phone that the only reason he'd done half the things he'd done in the past ten years was because Brian had been the one to ask him. He'd hung up, looking totally stricken, and disappeared behind Mikey's computer, until he finally shoved it into Gerard's lap.
"Look what you did," he said. Gerard stared blankly at the screen until Bob pointed. "There, right there. 'Anyone near a griffin cannot tell a lie.' This is entirely your fault. That thing is a hazard on a tour bus."
They all turned to look at the griffin, who was grooming itself in the corner. It paused and looked up at them, then sneezed, flapping its wings and falling back against the doorframe.
"Oh yeah," Frank said dryly. "He's deadly."
Gerard leaned over to scratch between the griffin's ears. "I'm sure Ma will take him, next time we're in town, until we can get our own place," he said to Ray, then flushed bright red. He tried to correct himself and say until I can get my own place, but could only cough instead.
Mikey patted him on the back. "The truth thing won't bother her," he agreed. "She's never been anything but brutally honest."
"And until then?" Bob asked, glaring warily at his phone, which had just started buzzing in his hand.
"Try not to confess your undying love for Brian again?" Frank suggested, then ducked under Bob's swinging arm and darted for the bunks, Bob close on his heels.
Mikey glanced between Gerard and Ray, then leaned down to give the griffin a piece of his muffin. "Good work," he told it, patting it on its head, and followed Bob and Frank out of the room.
"Our own place, huh?" Ray said, tugging Gerard down into his lap, and Gerard tucked his face into Ray's shoulder.
"Remind me not to talk again until we can drop this guy off in Jersey," he said.
Ray laughed, and Gerard could feel it through his chest. "Don't worry," he said. "I already know all your secrets," and he leaned in to kiss him some more.