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Stairway to Heaven

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Frank wakes up when his dreams start rumbling. He cracks an eye open and looks at the clock. Three am. He hasn't woken up because of a minor earthquake in at least thirty years. Living in San Francisco for over a century does that to someone. He's wide awake now, so he reaches out and turns on the bedside lamp. He might as well read himself back to sleep.

Something is tickling his cheek. He reaches down absently and picks up a feather. No pillow feather this: it's longer than his hand, shading from pure white to lavender-grey at the tip. Frank hasn't been able to manifest his wings since the Ohlone were roaming this peninsula. So long ago, and he was so far away, but he'll never forget the feeling. They're mantled now, but is this what woke him? Frank stands naked and shaking in the middle of his bedroom and summons them.

He turns so he can see himself in the full-length mirror on the back of the door. He can see the wings curving up and out of the mirror's view, and he finally turns his head and looks over his shoulder. There they are. Like they were never gone. He reaches up and lets his fingers slide through his feathers and then practically lunges for his phone.

Kat answers almost immediately. "Kat, can you -" he blurts at the same time she says,

"Frankie, did your -" They both stop.

"What the fuck," Frank asks.

"I don't know! The seal - is the key -"

"The key is safe," Frank promises. "I'd know if my wards had been breached."

"Then... the Gate? Could something have happened to the Gate?" she asks. "James just called and said he thought it was an earthquake, but he just checked the USGS website and there's nothing."

"I thought it was one too. Weird, I'm so used to them. Kat...did he check the Italian news sites?"

"Hang on, I can merge these two calls. Check Italian news," Kat says.

"Holy fuck," Frank hears James say over the line.

"James?" Frank says.

James starts reading the news story. His Italian pronunciation is a little rusty from disuse, but they all get the gist. There was an earthquake near Assisi. "We all helped make that seal. If the Gate opened...."

"It can't open without the key," Frank reminds James. "Can't. Anyway, a crack isn't a big deal. There are hundreds of Gates." At least there were. He's lost track of most of his brethren over the centuries, since they sealed the Gates and scattered with their keys.

"It's a big deal if we have our powers back," Kat says.

"Some of our powers," Frank corrects. He feels like a puzzle with pieces missing. Better than before by far, but still... He lifts his shoulder up to hold his phone to his ear and flexes his hands in front of himself. A ball of bright, white light forms between them. "Huh. Wonder if we have any healing back."

"Maybe you should be asking if we're the only ones with some powers back," James interrupts sourly.

"Fuck," Frank says.

 

***

 

Grant is about to take a sip of coffee when there is a rumble deep in his bones. He sets his mug on his coffee table with a thud. "Vince, did you feel that?" he asks down the phone line.

"You don't think that a submarine -" The humans in this area lived in fear of the nuclear arsenal at the American military base for a long time. It was somewhat contagious.

"Vin, that was no submarine," Grant says. "That was -" he cuts off with a gasp. He feels like the furnace in his house just flared to a thousand degrees.

"Grant," Vince starts. He can hear a muffled exclamation from Cameron too. Both of his vassals must be in Glasgow at their shared studio. Grant shushes Vince. He points at the cold hearth of his sitting room fireplace and snaps his fingers. The fire roars to life. "Yes," he murmurs.

"Grant, what do you think..." Vince trails off.

"I have a suspicion."

He hears Vince tell Cameron, "No, himself has a suspicion." Vince adds into the phone, "Grant, I know that tone of voice. The last time we got involved with your angel and his brethren, we fucking ended up without powers."

"It appears we are no longer without, my friend."

"If we have powers back, we're probably not alone," Vince says.

"I would dearly love to find out," Grant mutters.

"Speak for yourself. You have no idea where he is now, and I for one don't care. I am not ready for a repeat of Paris, Grant," Vince says darkly.

Grant stands up, turns the phone to speaker and tosses it on the sofa, then stands in the middle of the room and stretches. "Yes," he hisses as dark wings rise to block the daylight.

Vince must hear the rustle. "Don't get too attached to those," Vince warns. "Your angel may be self-sacrificing, but he also had no qualms about sticking the rest of us in the same boat as him. I wouldn't put it past him to figure out a way to repeat the performance."

"I will figure out what is happening here, but I really don't think he did this," Grant says. "And he's not my angel."

Vince just laughs.

 

***

 

Gerard sighs as he finally leaves the church after late mass. Tonight's service had been more difficult than usual, and his homily had seemed almost criminally short, but he hadn't been able to make himself say any more. He knows he should go back to his apartments and do some reading, or eat something - he feels like he was hearing confessions all day. But instead he walks around the back of the building to the little children's garden, the shrine to St. Francis.

It's his favorite spot on the grounds, even in the dark. He sits on the little wall surrounding the shrine and holds in another sigh. He's pretty sure he's reached his sigh quota for the day. He looks down at the top of the retaining wall and sees something he's never seen before. It's a small figure of a bird in flight - a little one, like a wren or a swallow. It looks like it was scratched into the stone. Strange.

It's not exactly run-of-the-mill graffiti. Actually it's really pretty. "And appropriate," he tells the St. Francis statue. He reaches out to touch it, see how deeply etched it might be, and yelps in surprise when he touches it.

"Damn." This is why he shouldn't be out in nature, especially not at night. Of course he cut himself. But... no. It didn't feel like a cut, more like a static shock, and he looks at his fingers and there's nothing. Not even a mark. He pulls out his phone to shine a brighter light on it. Nope. Nothing. What the fuck. He touches the bird again, cautiously, but there's nothing this time. "Gotta get some sleep," he murmurs, tugging at his collar irritably.

He gets back up and starts walking toward home when he hears, "Father Way!" He grits his teeth and turns, but it's just Ray, rushing to catch up with him.

"Fucker," Gerard mutters when Ray falls into step beside him.

"That's a really filthy mouth for a priest," Ray tells him.

"I call you that every other day at least, how is it still surprising?" Gerard asks.

"I don't know, maybe because we're still on church property?" Ray retorts.

Apparently Gerard did have another sigh left in him. "The parish house is church property," he points out. "It's just a half block away."

"Yeah, but it's still your house. And Mikey practically lives there, so it's not like I could ever expect any level of sanctity," Ray says. "Speaking of, that's why I'm here. He said the pizza guy fucked up the order and you guys have enough pizza to feed an army. So he called me."

"It's always good to see you," Gerard says automatically. He's still rubbing his unblemished fingertips together.

"You sure, Gee? You seem pretty tired," Ray says gently.

"No, I... it's fine. Pizza and good company sounds good," Gerard replies. He is tired. But he's been tired for months. Years, maybe.

Gerard unlocks the back door and steps into the warm kitchen. Mikey is sitting on the counter, heels thumping against the cabinets, eating a slice of pizza. Gerard grabs his own slice and after that he perks up a bit. Food and company are good. If he keeps looking at his fingers, well. It doesn't really mean anything.

If only he could give a homily about this. Late-night pizza with his brother and his brother's boyfriend. His family. But that would definitely mean the diocese would see him out the back door. He may not be sure about anything right now, but if he leaves the priesthood, he wants it to be on his own terms.

He goes to bed a little earlier than he normally would that night. Sleep comes surprisingly easy, given how difficult it's been of late, but he dreams, strangely, almost terrifyingly vivid. Rushing through a cathedral complex he vaguely remembers from France, looking for - a safe hiding place? For what?

Someone - something - is chasing him, and he runs until his legs burn, and just when he thinks he'll have to collapse he spreads his wings and soars into the night sky.

Wings? Gerard wakes tangled in sweaty sheets, his fingers itching.

 

***

 

James and Kat offer to come up to San Francisco right away, but Frank tells them to stay in LA. Because it's them, though, they don't listen. It takes Kat about a week to set up coverage for her shop and gallery, but before he knows it a familiar convertible is pulling up in front of his house.

He hugs them both for a long time before they make him get in the tiny fucking back seat and drive up to Sonoma. They find a back road up into the hills, past about fifty wineries, and into a nice, secluded area where they spread their wings and launch into the air.

God, it feels good to fly. Frank's been afraid to test his powers too much. Afraid it was some sort of cosmic hiccup. But the three of them, they didn't even have to talk. They've all missed this dreadfully.

Frank goes high, up above the clouds, above air traffic, and flies back to San Francisco and looks down. He almost forgot how fucking tiny the world is. He wonders, idly, if any of his healing powers are back. Maybe he'll get a job at a clinic for a while. There's really nothing else to do unless some fool tries for the key.

That's what he tells his siblings that night, when they're safely back in his townhouse. "There's no reason to move the key. It's hidden well and warded well. The wards will keep even us away. I can add more, now that I've come back into some of my power."

Kat makes a face. "Have you heard from any of the brethren?"

"You know a lot of the other keymasters don't care for me," Frank says. "But we agreed - the brethren of the Gates all agreed - that setting the final seal was necessary."

"Not everyone agreed," James says. "Just the majority."

"A majority was all we needed," Frank reminds him. "You know the law."

"And what of the others?" Kat asks.

"They won't go against our will," Frank says. "Unless they want to Fall."

"No, I don't mean them. I mean the others."

Frank swallows. They are a different story. "If they come, we will deal with them," Frank finally says. "We've done it before."

"Yes, well," James grouses. "The last time we dealt with them, your boyfriend almost blew us all up, and you almost died."

Frank sighs. He's been arguing with James about Grant for centuries. "He isn't my boyfriend. That would require seeing him more than every few centuries. He's a demon," Frank insists. "A temptation I must endure. That is all."

Kat and James just look at him evenly and don't comment. He knows they don't entirely trust him, not when it comes to the demon. He doesn't trust himself either. More than once, his only saving grace has been the pain touching the demon inflicts upon him. Upon them both. He's only been able to endure it once. He'd used - wasted, James had said flatly - the last of his healing power on Grant. It had almost been the end of them both, and there's a room in an abbey in France that will never be the same.

Kat and James had to carry him away and he'd been ill and in pain for weeks after. But he'd done what he meant to do and he'd saved Grant too. It was worth it. And he hasn't seen nor heard from the demon in over two hundred years, anyway. Not since that night in the abbey.

"We'll wait and we'll see," he repeats. "My wards are strong and I will know if anyone tries for the key."

He goes out the day after Kat and James go back to their jobs in LA, and gets a job in a free clinic. He doesn't really have to work, of course, only picks up jobs every few decades out of boredom. Frank's pretty sure the last time he'd earned a human wage was when he'd helped build the Golden Gate Bridge. He'd liked that one the most - it had almost felt like flying, to be up so high in the sky. But he's obsessed with testing the limits of his returned powers. And even if he just ends up changing bandages or mopping the floor, he'll still be helping.

His first day, Frank isn't even in the same room as any patients. It's a lot of paperwork and training videos and his powers definitely haven't expanded to the ability to wave his hand and have the paperwork done. Or to making people believe anything he tells them. So he sits through everything and comes back the next day in his new scrubs. He mostly just tails another aide, but he talks to a few patients, holds a few hands while others do work. And he concentrates.

If You can hear me, he prays every night, just grant me enough to help ease their pain. But it's been a long time since he was at all sure anyone was listening.

When the clinic finally trusts that he knows what he's doing well enough to leave him alone with patients, he gets to work. He starts small. There's a little girl with a relatively minor cold waiting with her mom in one of the exam rooms. He slips inside the room with a book and a cup of coffee for the mom and holds the little girl's hand while he reads to her. He's supposed to be on break, no one will notice, and if they do, they won't complain about him spending his time cheering up a little kid. By the time he leaves the room, she's not coughing or sniffling anymore. He grins. This is better than flying, he's pretty sure.

He keeps healing where he can, small enough hurts that they won't tax his powers, small enough that they will be overlooked. Tiny miracles. He tries not to think about the ripples he's making. Even the smallest ripple can reach a far shore. He knows the demon will find him eventually.

He craves it almost as much as he fears it.

 

***

 

Grant sits at a small table at a cafe under the shade of a tree and sips a Coke. He hates Italy. He hates being so fucking close to so much holy fucking ground. Unfortunately, he needs to check that Frank's Gate is still sealed, that it's still warded enough to keep everyone away. If Frank's Gate is still safe, then Frank is safe. Wherever he is.

So many centuries, and he still can't make the angel understand that they're - however reluctantly - on the same side. He thought it would finally be enough, last time, to step in and take the demonic blow meant for Frank. But oh, the reproach in his eyes when he'd looked at Grant bleeding out on the floor of the St-Germain library. He'd healed Grant anyway. Grant hadn't felt such pain since he Fell, but even after all that.... Grant had retreated to the loneliest place he knew to lick his wounds, and the angel, and his knowledge of the key, had as good as vanished.

Neither of them want that fucking Gate open. Ever. He finishes his drink and drops a few Euros on the table. The papers and the people in Assisi are abuzz with talk of recovery from a recent earthquake, and Grant is pretty sure he has his answer right there, but he needs to be sure. He slides his sunglasses back onto his face and walks toward the Basilica. Crossing onto the grounds will be painful, but not as bad as the touch of an angel.

Still, he stays in the Rose Garden, reaching out to the passing mind of a tourist with his rusty but somewhat restored powers and giving him a little nudge to ask some leading questions and record the answers with that fancy phone on his belt. Technology. Grant fucking loves the twenty-first century.

While he waits, he strolls the garden, stopping to ponder the statue of Saint Francis within. The angel had been fond of this mortal, bringing his Gate here, even taking the saint's name as his own sometime after the poor mortal died. Something at the base of the statue catches his attention. He squints, then moves closer.

It's a pretty little bird etched into the stone. His hand reaches forward to touch it, but he stops. Frank. It must be. The tiny pulse of power he feels an inch out is enough to confirm it. It would likely burn if he were to actually touch it. He can't deny that he's tempted to anyway.

Where else have you been, Frank? Grant thinks. It's been a long time. Where are you now?

When the tourist comes back, Grant takes his phone and sends the files to Cameron back in Scotland, sending the man away with another thought. He leaves the garden with one more glance at the base of the statue and goes back to his hotel, taking a long, cool shower and then calling Cameron.

"How bad is your headache?" Cameron asks when he answers.

"Throbbing," Grant replies. "I hate Italy. What's the news?"

"According to the nun your tourist talked to, a pretty large portion of the Basilica had earthquake damage. The archway we know is the Gate is cracked and the general area is not open for visitors, but there's no immediate danger," Cameron replies. Grant knows enough about the seal to know that it's not a physical barrier, not really, but it's bound closely enough to the physical world that these cracks have clearly affected it. "Is it such a bad thing?" Cameron continues. "You're clearly not having any problems using the powers that we've gotten back."

"I am. But If someone manages to open the Gates again… I shudder to think," Grant says.

"So you'd really rather be powerless… be human?" Cameron asks.

It takes Grant a moment to say it, but his answer to that question has always been a resounding, "Yes." Better to be human than to be back in the Pit.

 

***

 

"It's just. I've been having these dreams for a month, Father. Incredibly vivid dreams. They're… most of the time they're horrifying. It's like… it's like I'm experiencing the memories of someone else. Someone who… I don't even know," he says. "I'm exhausted."

"You said you dream often of the past. I've known you for a long time, Father Way," the bishop says. "You have a sensitive soul. Perhaps not so much sitting up so late reading of our history, and more tending to your flock?"

Gerard frowns, even though the bishop can probably see his expression through the confessional screen. He does tend his flock. His parish is probably the only reason he's here on his knees at all. "It's not always horrible, though. Just last night, there was a man, a man with a terrible wound in his side, and I reached out my hands and I healed him, Father. It was excruciating but so, so...." Gerard trails off.

"So?" the bishop asks.

"Like it was the only thing I could possibly do. Like I had too much love for that person to do anything else, but it was… like being set on fire," Gerard whispers. "I can't… every night it's like this. I haven't read a book or listened to music or done much of anything for a month."

"Christ healed with the laying on of hands," the bishop says. "But, Father Way - Gerard - you are not he. I can only admire your empathy, but I worry. You - I really feel I must recommend a leave of absence. Spend your time in rest, and prayer, and contemplation of your duties."

Gerard lets out a deep breath. "I don't want to leave my flock. They deserve better."

"Gerard, they deserve someone who is healthy, who has their mind on them, not dreams such as yours," the bishop says gently. "Perhaps some travel, being away from here would help clear your head?"

Perhaps if I leave I won't be able to force myself to return, Gerard thinks, but does not say. This isn't really a suggestion. He knows the bishop would prefer not to make it an order. "With your leave, Father," Gerard murmurs.

"You will find your way, Gerard," the bishop says. "And I think some time away will do your heart good. You have done well by your church for all the years you have served there. Even priests need time off. Perhaps especially priests."

He's still thinking about it as he sets the wheels in motion to take a leave of absence, notifies the proper people at diocese and parish, calls his deacon. He's not sure he believes in time away. The robes might come off but the vows do not.

Gerard has a goodbye dinner at his parents' house, with Mikey and Ray and a few other friends and family members, and then gets on a plane. He goes to France first because it's familiar; and if he's very honest, because it features heavily in some of his more intense dreams.

He spends days in the Louvre, directionless, feeling some sort of itch crawling under his skin. He attends Mass at Notre Dame. He eats fresh bread and cheese every day. And when he visits the church at Saint-Germain-des-Pres, he recognizes it and his stomach sinks in horror.

It's not quite tourist season, so only the truly dedicated are there, which allows him freedom to wander as he pleases. Especially since he has his credentials in his bag. He has to sit down when he reaches the former site of the cloisters, though. His mind is full of explosions and screams and blood.

"I can't do this anymore," he whispers to the statue of the Virgin in the niche he's ducked into. "I want my dreams back."

He's on the verge of sobbing it all out right here to this fucking statute, when he sees a little bird engraved on the lintel of the niche. It's almost completely hidden. He'd have missed it entirely if it weren't for the way he'd ducked awkwardly into the niche. "Please," he whispers, "I don't understand."

He can't seem to stop himself from reaching out to touch it. Gerard can't tell if the slight pulse he feels when he touches it is his imagination or not. "Birds," he says with a little laugh. He knows what he has to do. "Thank you, Mother," he whispers.

When he leaves the church he calls Mikey. "I'm going to Italy," he says.

"Any particular reason, or are you tired of France already?" Mikey asks. Gerard laughs.

"Birds. I'm going to Assisi."

"Because of birds?" Mikey asks incredulously. "You know you sound sort of crazy, right?"

"I feel sort of crazy. But it feels like the right thing. Like that's where I'm meant to go," Gerard replies.

"Gee... do you need me to come to you? How are the dreams?"

"Not better, not worse. I can sleep here though, if I walk enough."

"Not worse is good. And so is sleep. But fucking call me and I will catch a plane to wherever you are if you need me," Mikey says.

"I think... I think I'll be all right," Gerard says. "I hope I will. You have a job and a boyfriend and you don't need to come chasing after me."

"You're my brother," Mikey says as if that negates everything else. Maybe it does. "I'll bring Ray with me. We'll treat it like a vacation."

Gerard giggles. "I can't really imagine you guys vacationing in Europe like... ever. Unless maybe you were touring music festivals."

"We fail at being stereotypical gay men," Mikey agrees.

"You're you," Gerard says fondly, "that's all that matters." Its a good thing, because sometimes Gerard forgets who he is.

He sighs and Mikey says, "You promised to stop that."

"Sorry. No more sighing. From now on. I'll call you from Assisi. Love you, Mikey," Gerard says.

"Love you too, Gee," Mikey replies and they hang up. Gerard goes back to his hotel to pack and check the train schedule.

*

After his aimless wanderings in Paris, Gerard in Assisi is a man on a mission. He visits every site associated with Francis, and there are quite a few. None of them strike him in quite the same way that the little shrine back home did, or even the statue in Paris. He does recognize many of them from his dreams, so he knows he's in the right place. Then one day, he goes to a basilica that makes him draw in a breath. This place is significant. And not just in the life of the saint.

He wanders around for a while until a docent greets him hesitantly in Italian. Gerard's own Italian was never terribly good, but he responds as best he can. At the very least, the words are all the correct ones. Who knows how many rules of grammar he completely forgot, though.

Apparently his crappy grammar makes the docent laugh, and he agrees to show Gerard around. He mentions an earthquake multiple times, apologizing that so many areas of the basilica are closed. "But I can recommend the garden," he says.

Gerard is disappointed he can't explore the inside more thoroughly. There's something in there. Something important. He just knows. But he smiles and lets the docent lead him to the garden. It really is a lovely garden and when Gerard catches the docent checking the time, he asks if perhaps he can stay and pray. The docent nods and scurries back the way he led Gerard.

Gerard loses track of how long he spends in prayer, but when he opens his eyes he knows somehow that he'll see a little carved bird somewhere nearby. There's little alcove near him with a statue of Francis standing watch over the gardens. On the wall near the base is where Gerard finally sees it.

"I knew you'd be here," Gerard whispers. He kneels at the base of the statue and reaches out to touch the carving. The same pulse as in Paris happens, maybe even stronger, and this time he's not surprised. He closes his eyes and whispers a little prayer, "It started with you, I think. Maybe you can help?"

He opens his eyes and his vision swims. For a moment it's like he can see himself, kneeling at the foot of the statue. He turns, slowly, still on his knees, and sees a man standing in the middle of the garden. Not just a man - an unspeakably beautiful one. With wings. He looks around himself, a look of astonishment growing on his face. He looks back at Gerard.

"Who are you? How did I get here? Because I sure as hell didn't travel to Assisi in my sleep and I haven't been back here in over two hundred fucking years."

Gerard blinks. The double vision is worse now. He can see the the man - angel? he certainly doesn't sound like an angel - overlaid somehow, bizarrely, on his own shocked face. "Do you think I know? Do you think I know anything?" Then he pauses. "In your sleep?" he murmurs. "A dream, another dream."

"No, this isn't a fucking dream. I know dreams and I know visions. So since I'm not actually in Assisi this must be a vision. Your vision." And just like that, the man looks gravely concerned and his tone changes. "Are you all right? Do you need help? You must have called for my help."

"I didn't," Gerard whispers. "I mean, I didn't mean to, I didn't think...that anyone was listening."

"But I am," the angel says gently. "It doesn't take much to bring me if you really do need me."

"I'm not sure of anything," Gerard chokes out.

"Fuck," the angel says. "I'm sorry." Gerard's hands go into his hair.

"Why is this happening to me? I just want my fucking dreams back."

"I'm sorry," the angel says again. "So, so sorry, I wish I could help you. I want to help you." He takes a few steps forward, hands extended, but Gerard's vision swims and he slumps against the statue's base.

When he finally opens his eyes he knows the man will be gone. The little bird looks like it's taunting him now. He suddenly, desperately wants to go home. He's tired of these fucking dreams, tired of being tired. Tired of everything. So he goes.

*

He flies into Newark and takes the train home; Mikey's waiting at the parish house when Gerard returns. He doesn't ask, just lets Gerard hold on for a while.

"I'm going to tell the bishop I'm done, for good. I can't... I can't do this anymore. Can't be this person. I need... I don't know," Gerard finally murmurs in his ear.

"Should you be making this decision right now, Gee?" Mikey asks. "Why can't you? What is it you want?"

"All I know is that I - I can't hide parts of myself anymore, I can't pretend you and Ray are anything less than you are anymore. I stopped being able to believe the words coming out of my mouth at mass, during confessions. I can't fool good people like that. They deserve better than I or the church can give them," Gerard whispers.

"It didn't help to get away for a while?"

"I can't get away from my own head," Gerard says. "I tried, Mikey. I prayed in some of the holiest places in the world. None of it helped. I just want to be loved, someday. I don't know what I'll do, but I can't do this anymore."

"If that's what you need to do, I'll get a bunch of the guys and we'll help you move," Mikey says and gives him a squeeze. It's a simple and practical response, totally Mikey. And totally not enough to soothe Gerard, but he appreciates the effort. The formal process of laicization takes years. He is just going to have to live with this. Live through this.

 

***

 

Frank wakes up with a jolt. He gropes for the light and turns it on. Yup. Still the middle of the night in San Francisco. "What the fuck?" he whispers.

He fucked up; he used to be better at the "Hail, be not afraid" routine. Never as good as Kat; she has the best presence of any of them. But he was just so surprised; he hasn't been called in hundreds of years, not since before he lost his powers, and usually whoever's calling him is... well, prepared for his angelic visage and all that shit. That poor priest in the Rose Garden. If Frank himself hadn't been so shocked to find himself standing in Assisi - so close to his Gate, after so many years, and it had pulled him as it always had - maybe he'd have found the right words.

The dreams, the young priest had repeated. Frank's heart hurts just thinking of him. His distress had been shining from him like a beacon, and Frank's hands itch, as always, to heal.

Frank wonders what it was that called him. The poor priest clearly hadn't intended to actually summon anyone. Frank wonders what he's going through. His dreams are clearly plaguing him, but there's almost always more beneath the surface when one's dreams are causing that much distress. He sighs. There's nothing he can do about it now. Hopefully the priest finds the help he needs.

He's concerned, now, that he's left too much of himself in Assisi. That he's left himself dangerously unprotected. But no one other than his siblings knows that's where he'd situated his Gate...no. That's not true. There is someone else who knows. He wishes he could call Kat or James again, but it's so late. He stares at the ceiling and wonders what Grant is doing instead. Where he went after France. Frank had been nearly insensible at the time, utterly dependent on James and Kat's care, but it had been easy enough for them all to disappear after the gathered brethren sealed the Gates. The Revolution had left France in utter disarray.

Kat and James had chosen America. Frank might have made a different choice, but after fifty or so years in New Jersey it had felt like home. He hopes Grant found a place he could call home. Frank vaguely recalls seeing Grant's companions carrying him out of the decimated library. Recalls wishing he could follow, that he could make certain Grant would be all right. It's probably better that he couldn't. Probably better that they haven't seen each other in over two hundred years. He tries not to dwell on it.

Frank reflects crankily that these disturbed nights of sleep are starting to add up. It's difficult for him, now that a measure of his power has returned, to resist the temptation to reach out - and out - and out, casting his net wide to catch... who? His siblings in Los Angeles? Other brethren? The mysterious priest? His demon, wherever he may be? But he always picks up a book instead. He needs his sleep. He's been giving more and more hours to the clinic. There is always a need for him there. He has a shift in—he looks at the clock—four hours.

It's Friday, so that will likely mean drinks with everyone whose shift ends at three thirty. He likes his co-workers there. They're all good people who want to help the community. He'll be exhausted by the end of the day because of the drain from the healing, but spending time with them is always enjoyable.

*

They leave in a group, the four of them who go off-shift together, but Frank trails the other three as they walk down the street, arguing good-naturedly over where to go that night. There is nothing less than an embarrassment of riches - Frank has watched his beloved Mission District change so much since the Great Fire, going from respectable to rough, sheltering laborers, immigrants, punks, and finally ending up in its current guise - an explosion of food and color and people.

He fits in here - he's made sure he fits in here, painting his own skin with as many designs as the murals and the townhouses. He misses Jersey, still. Goes back to visit as often as he can, but he stays here. Because the key belongs here, and these are his people. His human brethren.

They get to the restaurant that Miguel insists they have to go to because his cousin just got a job there and they need to support him and, "You better fucking tip well." Frank thinks a margarita and a burrito sounds great, so he's happy to go along.

It's crowded - must be a popular spot. Frank thinks Miguel's cousin will hardly notice their tip. Everyone's table is loaded down with food. Frank does his part in demolishing their own dinner, and drinks a few margaritas. He enjoys alcohol, though its effects are somewhat muted by his enhanced physiology. He enjoys watching his friends enjoy themselves, too, and when they leave to go to a nearby pub, he lets himself be dragged along there too. Dancing isn't really Frank's forte, but music... music makes him soar almost like flying, makes him feel immortal.

He's leaning against the bar and nodding along to the beat of a song when someone sidles up to him. "Can I buy you a drink, gorgeous?"

Frank looks over at the man next to him. He's relatively tall and built and he's got a shaved head. Frank swallows. He takes a moment to answer - maybe a few moments, because he's seeing another face and body in his mind's eye. A few moments too long, because he can see the expectant expression bloom on the man's face. "I'm fine, thanks," Frank finally says with an apologetic shrug. "Just waiting on some friends." Always waiting. Waiting for someone who's most definitely not going to show.

Thankfully, his friends don't make a liar of him and they come off the little dance floor in front of the stage where the band is playing and surround him with laughter. Despite their cheer, he'd really rather go home all of a sudden. He walks Cara home first, because she lives the farthest away, on the edge of the Castro.

When Frank finally lets himself into his townhouse, he sits his keys down on the hall table and thinks for maybe the thousandth time that he wishes he had a dog. He'd had a succession of strays after he finally moved into this house, but after a few decades it had just gotten depressing. He's been alone for a while now. He's just not sure if even a four-footed companion could distract him from his current train of thought, though.

It's not one he's allowed himself to entertain for a long, long time. He hardly allowed himself to think about it when it was relevant, but something about the return of their powers, about seeing Assisi early this morning, is making it impossible to think of anything else. Every time he touched someone to heal them today at the clinic, he thought of Grant. Strangers that look nothing like him apart from the bald head apparently make him think of Grant. He sighs heavily and goes to his room without bothering to turn on any lights.

When he closes the door behind him, he strips off his clothing and stands in the middle of the floor for a moment before sinking to his knees on the oriental rug by his bed, eyes closed. He's barely aware of the decision to summon his wings until he's wrapped in feathers, burying his fingers in down. Whatever space it is that he occupies when he calls forth the wings lets his spirit wander far, far, so far. He could contact Kat or James this way, easily, but he doesn't. Grant, he thinks.

There's a moment where he feels that perhaps it's not a good idea, but then he's blinking at Grant sitting at a desk in front of him. All the breath goes from his lungs. Grant blinks back and then his eyes widen. "I suppose I should have anticipated this," he says and Frank watches him carefully school his face back to neutrality.

"I just - needed to know," Frank whispers. "I'll go now."

"No!" Grant snaps. He stands up and takes a few steps closer, not that it will do any good. Frank struggles to his feet as well, suddenly conscious of the fact that he's naked except for his feathers. It had taken him a long time in the human world to learn modesty, but Grant can make him self-conscious with a single sweep of his dark eyes. "Tattoos, Frank?" Grant asks. "You know what they say about mortification of the flesh. It can be as addictive as the sin." Frank bites his lip, hard, then stops when he realizes what he's doing. Damn the demon. "You're as beautiful as ever," Grant murmurs.

Frank can't help the tiny intake of breath. After neither seeing nor hearing of him in over two hundred years, he can still affect Frank this way. "You look well," Frank manages. Grant takes another step forward.

"If I'm seeing those here, they must be part of your soul," Grant murmurs. "You always did wear your heart on your sleeve."

"Don't," Frank begs as Grant reaches out. They can't touch here, any more than they can in the mortal world. Frank doesn't know what's worse, the pain of physical contact or the utter frustration of being incorporeal. Then Grant's office shudders, like the surface of a pond disturbed by a rock. Frank's losing control of the projection. He's too tired, used up too much energy already. Grant's unaffected facade cracks a little as, Frank assumes, his own figure wavers as well.

"Such a tease," Grant hisses.

"It can never -" Be enough, Frank finishes silently in his own head as he finds himself back in his own bedroom. He's completely, utterly spent. He can barely summon the energy to put his wings away and get into bed. Why did he do that? He can't deny that it was good to know Grant is alive and well. But everything else makes his chest feel heavy, like each breath is an effort.

Frank tries to focus on something else, but instead he gets stuck on the sound of Grant's voice. He had an accent. He must've been living in Scotland for the last two hundred years. Is he still there? Frank's not leaving his key. Especially not now. But part of him wants to run, to drive, to fly as fast as he can. He closes his eyes instead.

 

***

 

Grant is standing in the middle of his office with his hand hanging in mid-air.

"Fuck," he says and sits back down. As he told Frank, he probably should have expected that, but in truth, it's the very last thing he would have imagined happening. It's just too easy to convince himself the angel doesn't care. And hard to believe that it couldn't be farther from the truth. The utter desolation in his eyes and voice when he asked Grant to stop, to not even let his fingers slip through his visage was enough to tell Grant everything.

Irritably, Grant pitches a book across the room. It thuds harmlessly against the wall, but the flames in the fireplace shoot up at least a foot for a moment. "I'd crawl," he snaps. "I'd beg."

He knows their Father isn't listening. Never answered prayers for the likes of him anyway. He hopes, at the least, that Frank still has his companions. He knows from long experience that sometimes they're the only thing that keeps him going sometimes. And Frank has always been prone to bouts of loneliness and melancholy.

There was a time that even thoughts of the angel would send Grant into a years-long spiral of vice. Now, he simply reaches for the phone.

"Is he up to his elbows in ink?" Grant asks when Cameron answers Vince's phone.

"Yup," Cameron replies. "Can I relay a message?" he asks pertly.

Grant laughs. "This is actually for both of you. Could you come up for the evening? I've... had a bit of a morning."

"Do I get to know more, or is it best told over a tumbler of something strong?"

Grant sighs. "The latter. Let's just say I had an angelic visitation."

"As long as you're not going to tell us you're pregnant," Cameron snarks.

Grant bursts out laughing. "Whatever would I do without you, Cameron?"

"Wither into a pile of bones and misery," Cameron replies.

"Likely true. I'll see you tonight. Pick up some food? I seem to be low on things you'd find appealing."

"Dove's tongue, flesh of virgins?" Cameron is in rare form today.

"Takeaway curry would suffice," Grant replies.

There's only one virgin of his acquaintance whose flesh holds any interest for him, anyway. At least he assumes Frank is still a virgin. Perhaps he shouldn't. It's been a long time. Grant says goodbye to Cameron and casts around wearily for something else to throw at the wall. He'd been doing quite all right until the earthquake that gave them some of their powers back. Hardly gave the angel a second thought most days. Now he can't stop.

He hears the familiar sputter of Vince's car at half six and goes to the front door to meet his vassals. They both greet him with strong embraces and then launch into good-natured piss taking.

"It's as if you've known me for thousands of years or something," Grant says when they're settled in the kitchen with good scotch and take-out containers.

"Amazing," Vince says dryly.

"So. You're not pregnant, obviously. Tell us what happened," Cameron says.

"I was reading at my desk this morning and had a - vision. Of Frank. Just standing in my office. He said, 'I just needed to know,'" Grant says.

"To know?" Vince asks.

"That I was still of this world, presumably," Grant replies.

"Unless he was in the next town over, casting himself out to find a person of unknown location would have considerably drained him. He was desperate to find you," Vince murmurs.

Cameron sniffs. "Figures."

"What do you mean by that?" Grant asks.

"Just that there is no way either of you can have what you want. It's just like him to torture you both."

"Cameron," Grant says with a sigh. "If you think I haven't done my share of... then you're sorely mistaken. And I can't deny that seeing his face was... welcome. Even for only a few moments."

Seeing his face was welcome. Seeing his beautiful body, those tattoos, those wings displayed for him - that was torture. He wants to explore those tattoos. See if he can discern their meaning and have Frank tell him about the ones he can't figure out. Wants to touch them with his lips, his tongue, his fingers.

"Be that as it may, do you have any idea why he came to you?" Vince asks.

"Something is happening," Grant replies. "I can feel it."

"Do you think they'll reopen the Gates?" Cameron asks.

"No," Grant says. "Their seal was too clever by half. They'd all have to all come to an accord. Return all the remaining keys to their Gates. Our demonic brethren would like nothing better. But the angels...some might lose faith. Never all."

"So what could possibly be happening, if not that?" Vince asks.

"I'm not certain. But it's something. I need to find him, brothers," Grant says. "Somehow."

"Grant," Vince says wearily.

"I haven't seen or spoken to him in over two hundred years," Grant says. "If it were something that was going to go away, it would have by now."

"We know," Vince murmurs. "And we know how it will end. And we will pick up the pieces."

"But you can't expect us to be happy about it," Cameron adds.

Grant pours himself another drink. "I can't go another two hundred years," Grant murmurs. "I just can't. And I need to... if something is happening to him, I need to..."

"What? Save him?" Cameron asks. "You'll get no thanks for that. Didn't St-Germain teach you anything?"

"I got all the thanks I needed for that, and more," Grant murmurs. "I saved him, and he healed me."

"Doesn't that just make you even?" Vince asks.

"He endured much to do so," Grant murmurs. "He... not many others would have done so and certainly not as thoroughly as he did."

"I can see there's no arguing with himself," Vince says to Cameron. "As usual."

"Did you really expect there to be a chance of talking him out of this?" Cameron asks.

Grant sighs heavily. "I'm sorry to be difficult. He is..."

"We know, we know. You've loved him for a millennium." Cameron waves a hand dismissively.

He loves the two of them, too. He has always assumed they knew it, but perhaps he should make that known more often. "The two of you have been dear to me for several millennia."

"Grant, we know. And we know it's different with him," Vince says gently and reaches out to squeeze Grant's arm.

Grant wonders what the humans would think if they could see them now. Frightening demons indeed.

 

***

 

Gerard spends the first month or so after he leaves the priesthood holed up in Mikey and Ray's guest bedroom. After that, he's surfing fucking Facebook out of a sense of masochistic boredom and one of his art school friends makes a funny status update and they exchange pleasantries. He ends up getting invited to a party in the city and he agrees to go. Fuck knows why.

There's a moment when he has to leave the house - in a tee shirt and leather jacket, no clerical collar - that he almost balks, but he forces himself out the door. And into the party. And then someone hands him a Red Bull vodka and it all goes away for a while.

He can talk about whatever the fuck he wants to these people. He can swear and laugh at dirty jokes and he doesn't have to be responsible for anything. And if he drinks enough, eventually he forgets to feel guilty about it, at least for a while.

He ends up sleeping there and waking up with a killer hangover. His friend hands him a steaming cup of coffee and he drinks it before stumbling back to Mikey's place. Mikey doesn't say anything - what can he say? Gerard has seen him suffer through hundreds of hangovers.

He goes back to the city the next weekend. And the weekend after. The fourth weekend, a female friend hits on him. The fifth weekend, a male friend does. The sixth weekend, someone offers him a line of cocaine.

He says no to both hookups. He says yes to the coke.

Each weekend continues like that until the weekends start bleeding into the weekdays. He drinks at home, too, because it makes it easier to ignore the quiet, unhappy voices in the living room or in his brother's bedroom. Mostly, he drinks because when he passes out, he doesn't dream.

He knows he's in trouble the moment he does a line of cocaine before he has his coffee one morning. But he can't seem to stop. Mikey and Ray had shrugged and joined in the drinking after a while. Gerard is always the most wasted, though. It feels like college, like high school.

Lost, says that voice inside, his fucking conscience that still won't shut up. Lost your way.

What does it matter? he answers it.

Then one day Mikey says, "Get in the car."

Gerard shrugs, slips on a pair of sunglasses, and obeys. He doesn't remember what happened last night, but Mikey is pale and tight-lipped. They just drive for a while. It's a grey day, which Gerard is thankful for. It's already too bright, even with his sunglasses. Finally, Mikey pulls down a familiar road and parks next to the cemetery.

"Mikes?" Gerard whispers. Mikey just gets out of the car and leads the way to Elena's grave. "Mikey?" Gerard repeats.

"We used to visit her all the time," Mikey says. "Maybe you should tell her why you're trying to join her."

Gerard bites his lip. Hard. He blinks rapidly. "Mikey," he says again.

"Gee, you're... you scared the shit out of Ray and me last night," Mikey says. "So tell her. Because every time I've tried to talk to you, you brush me off."

He turns around and walks off, leaving Gerard to blink at Elena's grave alone. He has a sudden memory of saying the funeral mass. Who would say the words for him? What would they say? He swallows and kneels in front of her gravestone. He traces the letters. Her name, the years of her life. The tears start falling when he gets to the words "grandmother."

"You believed in me. That I could do important things. But I can't - nothing feels important. Nothing makes sense anymore. I can't... I don't know what to do anymore. It wasn't supposed to be like this."

He knows what she'd say. She'd say he can do anything.

He pushes himself back to his feet. Maybe he can find Mikey. He walks around. It's a big cemetery and Mikey didn't go in the direction of the car. There's an old, practically crumbling mausoleum in the direction Mikey went, so Gerard goes there first. There are a couple American flags stuck haphazardly in the ground outside it. From the dates, Gerard figured out some of the inhabitants probably fought in the Civil War.

He pulls out a cigarette and leans against the corner of the building out of the wind to light up. He tips his head back against the wall and takes a few long drags. It doesn't feel like enough, but it'll have to do.

That thought stops him. Used to be that those first few drags on a cigarette were the best feeling in the world. For those few moments, everything was okay.

"Fuck, I gotta stop this," he mutters. He suddenly feels cold and sick with guilt, not just hungover. He huddles down on his heels and stares at wall of the mausoleum, studying the cracks, the moss creeping up the brick. He twitches aside a scraggly plant and stares. Scratched into the door frame is a familiar little bird.

"No fucking way," Gerard breathes. He closes his eyes for a moment. It's still there when he opens them. Like before, he can't stop the compulsion to reach out and touch. The same little pulse greets him. He holds his breath, but there are no terrifying visions this time, just a sense of something.

"Whatcha doing, Gee?" Mikey asks quietly from behind him. Gerard looks up, then grabs Mikey's hand and tugs him to sit on the grass next to him.

"I have to tell you something. It's going to sound crazy." Gerard launches into the story. How he touched the bird at his old parish and started having dreams. How he found a similar bird in Paris, everything that happened in Assisi. Mikey only interrupts to ask questions and they aren't the kind that make him feel like Mikey doesn't believe him.

"I never intended to get so fucked up, Mikey. But I started to feel like I was making it all up, and I didn't have the dreams when I was fucking passed out." Mikey squeezes his ankle. "And I just found another bird," he says and pulls aside the leaves again.

"Are you sure it's the same?"

Gerard nods. "It... every time I've touched one, there's been a little pulse of energy. This one did the same."

"That part does sound sort of crazy," Mikey tells him. "But...if you really are having visions...are you done fucking trying to OD? What are you going to do next?"

"I... yeah, Mikes. I'm done," he whispers. He almost laughs when his body decides that's the moment to give him the little twitch of need for something. Anything. "Fuck, the next few days are going to fucking suck."

"Ray and I can help."

"I... need to clean my room of. Everything. And give you some rent money? I don't remember when I last did that," Gerard says.

"S'okay, Gee. Can we just... Go home and see Ray?"

"It's not okay," he says quietly. He feels nauseated just thinking about how much he's put his brother and Ray through. "But I'm gonna make it up to you." He gets up and pulls Mikey up with him. Mikey pulls him into his arms and they hug for a long time standing there in front of the mausoleum. "Okay. Let's go see Ray," Gerard finally says when they pull apart.

Ray is waiting when they get home, and when Gerard repeats his story, he's so sweet that it makes Gerard cry. The first thing Gerard does after that is flush the drugs down the toilet. Then he gets to work throwing out all the empties that have accumulated in his room. He dumps the remaining alcohol down the sink and then cleans his room.

He finds a bag of art supplies he bought a week after he moved in. He never used them. Mikey finds him sitting on the bed, staring at them.

"Don't push too hard," Mikey says. Gerard nods.

"Yeah. Just... wondering what the last few months would have been like if I'd started drawing instead of partying like I was a fucking college kid newly away from mom and dad."

"What sort of penance would you set for that, if you'd heard someone confess it?" Mikey asks quietly. Gerard looks at him reproachfully but he says, "No, I'm serious. You've got to have at least as much compassion for yourself as you would for someone else."

Gerard can only hug Mikey again. He's not sure he can forgive himself yet. But he knows Mikey is right. He does. But it's easier said than done.

*

His dreams don't get worse, but they do change after the bird at the mausoleum. He's traveling. In ships (miserable), on trains (much more pleasant), but he misses his wings.

Wings. "Am I you?" he mumbles into his pillow one night when he wakes from another dream. "What am I supposed to learn?"

He can't stop thinking about the angel either. He's started volunteering at an afterschool program, doing arts and crafts with the kids, and more often than not he finds himself sketching feathers and roses. He feels like he's getting back on track, that things are getting better, but he can't stop thinking about his dreams. About the little birds.

When he sees his old church being built, feels himself help build the shrine to Saint Francis, he suddenly has a thought. "Did you leave your mark everywhere you went?" he asks one of his drawings. He follows that a few days later with, "If I keep traveling, will I find more? Will I find you?"

He knows that's what he wants to do as soon as he asks the question. He gives it time, though. Mostly so he can try to assure Mikey that he's not crazy. Hell, maybe he can convince them to go with him. He has the money. The entire time he was a priest, he didn't spend his money on much, just put it in the bank.

In the end, he convinces them to go with him to Europe for two weeks. They don't have any more vacation saved up than that.Traveling around Europe with them is enjoyable, for any amount of time.

"I read an article once," Ray tells them one afternoon in a gallery in Florence, staring at Michaelangelo's Madonna of the Stairs, "That said 'Stairway' was about Jacob's Ladder."

"Well, yeah, Jacob's Ladder in the Bible was a literal stairway to Heaven," Gerard nods. "I never even really thought about it more than that." He cues up Zeppelin in his iPod on the way back to the hotel, though, and listens to the lyrics more closely than he ever has before.

That night, he dreams. He dreams of going to see someone.

"The Assisi Gate is closed?"

"Yes. I am taking the key with me. Far away."

"Via Rome?"

"I will find a ship and see where the winds take me." And then he carves a little bird in a shrine to Francis in a little back corner of the city before leaving for Rome.

Gates, he thinks. Gates and keys. He's assaulted with a dozen remembered dreams as he thinks it, doorways, blinding light, endless stairs, all blending together. He wakes up gasping.

"Gee?" Mikey mumbles from the bed he's sharing with Ray.

"Dream. I... in the morning, I think there's a shrine I need to find."

Finding the church is the hard part, but the little bird appearing just where he had seen his dream-hands carve it is somehow no surprise at all. "Huh," Ray says when he leans down to look.

"See? I'm not crazy," Gerard says.

"Gee, I didn't think..."

Gerard waves a hand. "I know, Ray."

"What happens when you find them all?" Mikey asks.

"I don't know if I could," Gerard answers. "Maybe I'll find him." The angel. The one with a key. Gerard blinks; he's seeing doorways again. "He went to Rome next," Gerard says.

"Well, that's what we were going to do anyway," Mikey replies.

They go to Rome. Gerard refuses to go to the Vatican, still feeling the utter failure of his calling, but Mikey and Ray do. To them, it's just a place to visit. The church that denounces everything they are, and they still don't hesitate to take what they want from it. What they are, Gerard thinks, is two of the best people he knows. He watches them come back late in the afternoon, hand in hand, and he feels a sudden pang. He realizes, suddenly, that he could have someone now. He has to hold in a bitter snort. The odds of finding someone who would understand his phone book of issues is slim to none.

The next day he goes out and wanders around the back streets of Rome. He stops anywhere that has Francis iconography and looks, although the carvings aren't always related to a Franciscan shrine. Sometimes it's Mary instead. The mausoleum in the cemetery in Jersey had borne an Our Lady bas-relief. That...doesn't really narrow it down. Should he follow doorways, keys, Francis, Mary?

"Help me," he says. He's taken to talking to the angel, like it might do some sort of good. "You said I called you. How do I do it again?"

 

***

 

When Frank wakes up the morning after contacting Grant, he feels like he got run over by a bus. Or got in a sparring match with Gabriel. Not that he knows what that feels like. Maybe he shouldn't have done it. He's going to be recharging his powers for days.

He calls in sick to the clinic and crawls back into bed. He looks at his text messages and missed calls and is dismayed to see some from both James and Kat. James especially only calls or texts when he's worried. He hits send on Kat's number and waits for the yelling to start.

"Frank," Kat says, voice full of tension. "What did you do? We could feel the ripples all the way down here. James came over to check on me, so we figured it had to be you."

"I. Um," he croaks. He clears his throat and tries again, but it doesn't come out much better. "I had to see if I could find him, Kat."

"And did you?"

"Yeah. He's... I think he's in Scotland? Had the accent and it was definitely far enough to be Europe." Frank curls in a ball under the covers with his phone pressed to his ear. "You don't have to yell. I know how stupid it was."

"I'm sending James up there," Kat says. "You need a minder."

Frank sighs. He doesn't argue, though. Instead, he asks, "Can you come too?"

"Oh Frankie," she says gently. "You really, really shouldn't have done that, huh?"

"I'm not sorry," he answers. "I'm just - lonely."

"I know, baby," she murmurs. "We can be up in a couple of hours if we fly."

"Nah. Don't risk it, then you'd be stuck if..." He trails off.

"If our powers vanish again," Kat finishes for him. Frank smiles. "Give us a day. We'll be there."

Kat hangs up and Frank pulls the covers up over his head. He sleeps.

He dreams. He's at a party and he's laughing and talking. But he's filled with guilt. Horrible, crushing guilt. When someone hands him a drink, he downs it in a couple of swallows.

This isn't right, Frank thinks. This isn't me.

Several guys and girls eye him speculatively, but Frank can hear a whisper, "I thought he was a priest?" He swallows and goes looking for another drink.

Oh, Frank thinks. This must be the priest he met in the vision. He's almost certain.

It's disorienting to reach drunkenness through someone else's experience. The dream becomes a swirl of harsh lighting and hot smells. A subway. New York. Then he's slumped in a NJ Transit train. Jersey. His first home in America. Somehow, that doesn't surprise him at all. When he wakes just as his dream self is unlocking a door, he sits up and rubs his eyes.

"Fuck," he murmurs. Suddenly, he feels even more concerned for the, apparently, ex-priest. He hasn't had lucid dreams - visions, really - for a long time. Definitely not since the Gates have been sealed. But he's always tried hard to heed them. He's not sure what to do, though. He supposes he could try to find the man, but that sounds like looking for a needle in a haystack and he just used up his energy on a fool's errand.

He sighs at himself. More sleep, that's just the best option. It usually is. He curls up back under his blankets and closes his eyes.

He wakes up again when the sun is just rising again. He smells coffee. Kat and James, then; they must have hurried like hellhounds were on their trail. He drags himself into the living room.

James squeezes his shoulder and disappears into the kitchen and Kat pulls him down next to her on the couch. He leans heavily against her. "You look like shit, baby," she murmurs and wraps an arm around his shoulders.

"You'd think I'd be less stupid after this many years," he says, lacing their fingers together and tracing idly at a few of her tattoos.

"Everyone's stupid in love," Kat says. "And you've had a thousand years to perfect that kind of stupid."

"At least you started buying decent coffee," James says, walking in with a clutch of mugs. Frank rolls his eyes and laughs. He reaches out with his free hand for the mug James offers him. He's not ready to let go yet. James settles companionably on his other side, bumps Frank's knee with his. Frank breathes deep. He feels so much better with his family here.

"Drink your coffee, and James will play you some music," Kat tells him. "Then you're going to rest more, I don't like the looks of you." Frank just nods and does as she says. It's the nicest morning he's had in a long time.

 

***

 

When Grant's doorbell rings late on a Friday night, he only really anticipates seeing one of two people at the door. He categorically does not expect his least favorite demon in the whole of the universe. "Daniel, I don't know how you found me or where you got the idea that you were welcome here," Grant says. "But you most certainly fucking aren't."

"It's amusing that you think I care whether or not I have your welcome," Daniel replies. "What have you been up to? Did you think you could hide the return of your powers?"

"Do you think I owe you an explanation? I don't work for you anymore. We're all stuck here, so that makes us, to my mind, free agents. Am I wrong?"

Daniel laughs. "For now. But when the time comes, I will tell interested parties how you have worked against those of us who remain loyal."

"Oh, I have no doubt that you'd enjoy that very much. If the time comes. If." Grant doesn't intend to let it. Ever.

"I will enjoy it," Daniel says. "Now I repeat: what have you been up to?"

"Nothing at all," Grant murmurs. It's clear that Daniel doesn't have any powers of his own back. Grant is curious as to what that means.

"Then how do you have your powers back?" Daniel asks. Grant nearly laughs at how fucking petulant he sounds.

"If I knew, do you really think I'd tell the likes of you? "

"Do you expect me to believe they just came back?" Daniel is getting thunderous. Grant tips back his head and laughs.

"Maybe if you're a good little boy, yours will too. Now get off my porch before I make you." He lets a little bit of power crackle in his eyes. Daniel stands there for a moment, completely incensed.

"I won't forget this," he growls, whirls around, and stalks off down the walkway back to his car.

Grant closes the door again and laughs at the absurdity of it. Unfortunately, he can't just brush this visit off. He's been thinking about reaching out to Frank ever since the angel's visitation, but wasn't sure if his powers were sufficient. Now he's afraid to use them at all, for fear of causing more ripples that might draw vermin like Daniel.

Daniel, unfortunately, had already known approximately where Grant lives. How he wishes he could expunge that knowledge from the other demon's memory. His long association with Daniel has often been a source of trouble for him, but long ago, before they lost their powers, it had been necessary.

Grant sighs. He should call Cameron and Vince. Tell them to be on the lookout for threatening weasels. For now, he goes to refresh the wards around his home. That's old earth magic, so that much he can do without power. Then he picks up the phone.

Cameron lets loose a string of profanity when Grant tells him. "If he comes here, he can meet the blunt end of a power blast."

"Don't waste it on the likes of him," Grant admonishes, but he's laughing.

When he calls Vince, he finds it a bit less hilarious. Vince tells him that Daniel was there too. "He suggested I might be better appreciated by another master."

"I consider vassals partners, not servants," Grant snaps.

"Grant, I know that," Vince murmurs. "And if he thinks he can draw either Cameron or me away from you, he's grown even stupider over the last few centuries."

"We will put him out of our minds, then," Grant says, somewhat soothed. After he hangs up, he goes to his computer. Surely he has some project to distract him. He checks his email perfunctorily. He's not really expecting anything interesting, but there is an email from one of his contacts there, which could provide a few moments of distraction.

We've had a research request, the librarian writes. For some of the Spence materials. So I'm contacting you as is required. In fact, you may have the requested volumes at the moment anyway.

Grant looks at the list and his eyebrows raise higher at each one. Each title relates directly to the Gates and their keys. Normally, he'd just assume it was an ambitious academic. But now...

He types up a reply. Tell them they're welcome to come get them if they truly want them. But I won't be lending those volumes out at this time.

There. That will discourage all but the most determined and then he can screen the person if he or she does show up.

 

***

 

Gerard finally finds the bird in Rome in a small garden attached to an equally small church in one of the oldest parts of the city. Which is to say, very, very old.

"There you are," he murmurs, going to his knees.

He's still sitting there with his fingers on it when the priest pokes his head into the garden. "Ah, you've found our little friend."

"Friend?" Gerard asks. He must look pretty American for the priest to automatically begin speaking to him in English. "Do you know anything about it?"

"Not much," the priest says sadly. "Such a cheerful little thing, isn't it? The priest at the time of construction kept journals, and they mention the stonemason making a little carving when he finished the gateway, so I like to think it is his. Who he was we do not know. The builders of our churches, they were travelers in those days."

"I've seen it in Florence. And Assisi. And..." he trails off before he mentions the two spots he's found it in Jersey. He supposes it could simply be a mason's mark, that it could have been kept in a family and made by fathers and grandfathers over centuries. But that feels wrong.

"How interesting! It's very charming. There was a local tale, old wives' tale, I believe you call them, that this gateway would not lead not into a courtyard, but to somewhere else entirely if one had the proper key. I enjoy it, but have never found a mention of it, other than the one." He shrugs, "It's entirely possible the priest was wandering in his mind. It was near the end of his life. But I enjoy it."

Gerard tries to control his breathing. "I - thanks for sharing the story, Father," he murmurs. Doorways. Keys. He remembers a moment from one of his dreams. St-Germain. Handing something to a beautiful woman, maybe another angel, telling her to run. To protect the key at all costs. And then staying to fight off the demons. "Father?" he asks, turning back. "Where would you want the doorway to lead to?"

"Heaven, perhaps?" the priest says. "I'd say that's a question that might get a thousand different answers."

Gerard thanks him and returns to the hotel.

*

"Ray, you remember what you said in Florence about 'Stairway to Heaven' and Jacob's Ladder?" Gerard says later when they're trying to decide what to do for dinner. "I think that might be legitimately it. Like. The stairways... I think the visions or dreams or whatever the fuck I'm having are of someone involved in them."

Ray looks startled. "I wouldn't take my word for it."

Gerard laughs. "No, but you will lend me your laptop, won't you?"

"'Course, Gee," he says and pulls it out of his backpack. Gerard wonders if his login for some of the more interesting databases he had access to as a priest still works. He goes to one and puts in his info. It logs in and he grins.

"What are you doing?" Mikey asks.

"Searching the archives," Gerard murmurs. "Pretty much for anything about keys, doorways, stairways, and angels. It, uh, might take a while."

Mikey shrugs. "We can go get dinner if we get bored. But maybe look at results that include all those terms before extensively researching each one?"

Gerard looks sheepishly at the twenty thousand results that just "stairway" returned and adds the rest of the terms to the search bar. There are still a lot. Way too many to read thoroughly. He starts anyway, and after a while Mikey and Ray do get bored and promise to bring dinner back for him.

After a while even Gerard gets bored and opens up the Wikipedia entry for "Stairway to Heaven" because... why not. His eyebrows go up after a minute; he's read articles about Zeppelin and the occult before and always shudders at the liberal use of the words "Crowley" and "Satanism." He had no idea Robert Plant had actually been reading scholarly studies of Celtic history. He switches tabs and adds a couple of names to the search string. That narrows things down significantly and the results all look like they're exactly the kinds of things he's looking for. Unfortunately, not much of it is online. It's all scattered through libraries and private collections in the UK, but he emails a few of the special collections departments anyway.

He does research until Ray and Mikey get back and then makes himself hand the laptop back to Ray. He can check on answers in the morning. "I think we may need to go back to London next?" he floats as he eats the food they brought him.

Mikey smiles. "I like London."

"We only have three vacation days left," Ray says. "Might as well. If Mikey wants."

Seeing Ray's smile, Gerard feels another pang. God, he's lonely. He loves his brother, and he loves Ray. They're his fucking family. But it's not the same. Not everything he needs.

He takes another bite of food. "So London. We can leave in the morning?"

"As soon as we can pack," Ray says. Gerard smiles and they all start packing.

*

Gerard is antsy the whole way to London. But he feels like he's getting closer to answers, the closer they get. Ray and Mikey go out for a beer the night they arrive, but Gerard just wraps himself in his sheets and closes his eyes. He'd pray for another vision, if he thought that it would bring one.

His dreams are disjointed. He's not sure if they're visions, or what. He dreams of railroads, mallets on stone and metal. He dreams of endless travel. And underneath it, a longing so strong, Gerard wakes up gasping. He spends the next two days playing tourist with Mikey and Ray, waiting for librarians to contact him, staring at microfiche readers. It's all interesting, but none of it pings him as relevant to him specifically.

He checks his email one last time before they're supposed to leave to get on a train to go to Gatwick and fly home and finds an email from one of the Scottish librarians. "Guys, I have a lead on some more books. I think I need to take a side trip to Scotland."

"If you don't mind going alone," Mikey says. "We really can't..."

"It's fine," Gerard assures him. "I'm fine. Really."

"You sure?" Mikey asks.

"Yeah, Mikes. I'm sure. Even if this doesn't pan out, I feel like I'm doing something instead of just stagnating."

"Okay," Mikey says.

He goes with them to the tube station and hugs them both for a long time. He's so glad they came, in the end. After they've headed south, he heads the opposite direction for the train station and pays for a Glasgow-bound train leaving in an hour.

He sleeps most of the way to Glasgow. It's still early enough in the day that he takes a cab straight to the library when he arrives. "Ah, yes, Mr. Way," the librarian greets him. "I wasn't sure if you'd actually make the trip. I am afraid the donor has denied the loan request." Gerard's heart sinks. "However, he did say you were welcome to come view the items in situ, er, at his home library."

"That's fine. Better than nothing. How far is it? Would it be too late to go out tonight?" Gerard asks.

"You're a rather eager scholar," the librarian remarks with a smile. "Grant lives about an hour away. It'd be an expensive cab ride."

"May I have his phone number?" Gerard asks. "I wouldn't want to bother you with arranging things."

The librarian scribbles it down and hands Gerard the paper. "He's not as miserly as his refusal might make him sound. Just very protective of his books. And with good reason."

"Nice library?"

"Priceless. Good luck, Mr. Way." The librarian shakes his hand and Gerard heads back outside to make a phone call.

The man who answers seems friendly enough. "It's not so late. If you rent a car, you could come out for the evening. There's a lovely little B&B in the village."

"Are you sure?" Gerard asks.

"I'm a night owl," the man - Grant, Gerard remembers - says, sounding amused.

"Awesome. I'll get a car and head out. What is the address?" he asks.

Grant recites it and Gerard writes it down under his phone number. "Call again if you get lost. The maps shouldn't be too difficult to follow, though."

It takes a bit longer than an hour; the roads are marked well enough, but the house is deep in the countryside. He drives past the lane twice before he spots it. He's suddenly nervous, so far out here, about to enter the home of a stranger. But the man sounded nice enough and the librarian spoke well of him, so he's probably not about to be killed.

He runs a hand through his hair, grabs his bag, and walks up to the door. The house itself looks ancient; he can't wait to see the library. He knocks. The man who opens the door is... "Fuck," Gerard breathes and has to grab onto the doorjamb. "Fuck, I know you."

"I don't think we've had the pleasure," the man replies. It's Grant, clearly; he has the same soft voice and accent, though currently he sounds puzzled and a bit startled. "Are you Gerard? Please come inside." Gerard feels weak, but he follows Grant inside.

"No but. My dreams," Gerard says when the door is shut behind them. "I swear to you."

"And perhaps I believe you, but - let's start again. I am Grant, welcome." He extends a hand.

Gerard reaches out to shake his hand and decides to trust him as soon as their fingers touch. He feels - he doesn't know what he feels. It's all getting mixed up with the dreams. "Gerard. Gerard Way. I... the entire reason I'm looking for these books is the dreams I've been having and I... you...." Gerard waits a second. "No calling me crazy and bundling me out the door?"

Amazingly, Grant shakes his head and smiles slightly. "No, I'd like to know more. Tell me about your dreams. How far back do they go? Do you know?"

"How far back in my life, or his?"

 

***

 

Frank is helping one of the other aides clean out a room that just held a patient with a stomach bug when he stops short. He suddenly feels like every hair on his body is standing on end. "What just happened?"

"Nothing?" Trisha says. "Gary started singing again, I know it's startling."

"No, that's not it," Frank breathes and sits down hard on the chair in the exam room. "Fuck."

"You okay, honey? You look white as a sheet. Need to step out for a sec? I can finish up here."

"No, I... it's not that. I'm good with the mess," he takes a deep breath and stands again. "It's like someone walked on my grave."

Trisha laughs, but she crosses herself all the same. Frank nearly does the same before he stops himself and picks up his mop again. He's just being dramatic. Except for how he's still covered in goosebumps.

On and off throughout the rest of the day, he remembers that feeling and shivers again. That night he calls Kat and James and talks to them both for an hour before he finally gives up and crawls into bed to read for a while. He falls asleep with his book like a thousand other nights. But he dreams.

He dreams of art. He's packing up drawings into a portfolio. They're good, but pretty boring - children's cartoon characters. Frank is much more interested in the superhero sketches mixed in, but his hands keep moving methodically.

"Are you sure about this?" someone asks him. He looks up to see a solemn face and the reflection off of a pair of glasses.

"I just can't draw this shit day after day. Not after seeing the towers fall. I need to do more, Mikey."

"I'm pretty sure they frown on priests swearing," the boy he called Mikey tells him.

"I haven't even started seminary yet," he says. "Old habits die hard."

"Yeah," Mikey replies. "I know. Just. Priest. It's a pretty big thing, you know? I know Mom and Dad would let you stay here for a while. And like. My job sucks, but working at Barnes and Noble is... it's something."

"I know they would. And you're still in school, Mikey. You're going to do awesome things someday. But I want to help people. It's the right thing, Mikey. I know it is," he says. There is genuine conviction there, Frank can feel it, but he can also feel the fear. Mikey nods and hands him a stack of comics just out of his reach.

The vision shifts. He's very conscious of the collar around his throat. It's his first time wearing it and he wants to wear it well. To be a good representative of God and the church. He's still scared. But he calls on some part of him that isn't afraid of the sea of faces in front of him, and his voice is strong.

The words of the service are so familiar to Frank that they start to fade into the background. Then he realizes the vision is fading as well and he struggles to stay with it. He wakes up. It's just five minutes before his alarm was supposed to go off. He's headachy and exhausted and he just wants to go back to sleep. Instead, he gets up and goes about his morning routine. He can't stop thinking about the poor priest. He started out with so much hope, so much conviction that he was doing the right thing. Clearly that changed somewhere along the line.

"I know what it's like," he tells the mysterious priest, splashing water on his face. "I was always sure I was doing the right thing, though. And it didn't make me any happier."

Helping the patients at the clinic, though... that does make him happy. And he's going to be late to work if he mopes around here talking to someone who isn't there. He pulls on a fresh set of scrubs and heads to work.

 

***

 

"Him?" Grant asks the young man in front of him. He's fairly certain he doesn't need the answer.

"Him. I don't know… I've only seen his face once. And that was definitely a vision, not a dream. But I am him. In the dreams. I've been having them for months and months now."

"These dreams, they're why you came to find me?"

"They're why I came to see the books," the man named Gerard corrects him. "The Spence journals. But it started with the birds." Now Grant is absolutely certain this is about Frank.

"Well, the books are here and you certainly may see them. But perhaps I can offer you some tea first, and hear your story?"

"Yes. Please. Thank you," Gerard says. Grant sets about making tea for both of them and urges Gerard to sit in one of the kitchen chairs. He still looks shaken and Grant can feel Gerard's eyes boring holes in the back of his head as he works.

I know you, he'd said. And by the fires of hell, even if his stumbling explanation hadn't made it reasonably certain, he can feel Frank's grace clinging to this mortal like a cobweb, tingling in his own fingers where they'd shook hands. But Grant is pretty sure this young man doesn't know what he is, not really, because he hasn't run back out to his rental car yet.

He fills the teapot when the kettle boils and pours for them both. Gerard thanks him politely and sips. Grant sits and waits.

"I… was a priest," Gerard starts. "I was feeling… It doesn't really matter -"

"I find these things matter a great deal, but carry on," Grant interrupts.

"Well. I was sitting at a little shrine to Saint Francis at my parish and I discovered a little bird I'd never seen before carved into the stone. I… everything started then. The dreams.

"I didn't connect them at first - who would? I just thought - well, I thought I was fucking losing it. Having the most terrifying dreams, not eating, barely concentrating enough to say Mass and hear confessions and - that was eventually the last straw, kneeling in confession to my bishop and him telling me to rest, as if that wasn't all I'd prayed for for weeks. So I took leave and went away for a while. I went to France, because I'd had repeated dreams - visions - whatever you want to say, and I recognized a few places. And I found another bird. And then I went to Assisi and something happened there and I... went back to New Jersey and I quit."

"And then what did you do?" Grant asks. Gerard looks shamefaced.

"I, uh. It was pretty bad for a while. I was so depressed and the dreams wouldn't stop and. I started drinking heavily and doing coke and it was bad. But I stopped. I'm done with that." He looks defiant and beautiful in that moment. "And I found another bird in Jersey, so I just… at that point I knew it sounded crazy but I didn't care anymore, and I just started looking for them. Convinced my brother and his boyfriend to come with me to Europe for a while and. Well, here I am."

"Tell me of your dreams. Your visions," Grant asks.

"I think it was his history. The things he's done. Except the one in Assisi," Gerard explains.

"What was different about Assisi?" Grant asks.

"I saw him. And I think he saw me, too. He talked to me." Grant feels a chill run down his spine.

"What did he look like, this man?"

"Angel," Gerard corrects softly. "He was an angel. Wings and all."

Grant swallows. "Anything else?"

"He… he has tattoos. He's fucking beautiful. But I was terrified. I broke the vision and ran away," Gerard says.

"His name is Frank," Grant murmurs. Gerard looks up at him.

"So I do know you."

"You don't. But he does. Tell me how you know my face."

"The first time I saw it you were bleeding. Bleeding into the dirt, and I healed you. I loved you," Gerard whispers. "I loved you so much, and it was terrifying. It was so long ago. Tell me how you're here now."

All of Grant's breath leaves his lungs. He swallows hard. "Much the same way he got to wherever he is, I imagine. By living."

"Who are you?" Gerard whispers. "Or… what?"

"I'm sure you can figure that out, Gerard," Grant says.

Gerard's teacup clatters back into its saucer. "You're an angel too? And you let me fuckin' - but the books -" he stammers.

"Yes, the books," Grant says, deflecting the conversation for the moment. "Why did you request the books? Why those, specifically?"

"Because everywhere I went, there was something about a gate or a key and every time I touched one of those birds, I had more dreams about them. I just… started researching everything to do with angels and gates and keys and those were the best results," he explains. "But it was really just a coincidence. My friend Ray is a metalhead," he adds with a nervous laugh. "And while I was going on about that stuff, he kept thinking of Zeppelin. 'There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold,' you know?"

"'Stairway,' of course. And so eventually, Spence. And me. I am rather impressed," Grant says slowly. "But I'm afraid you have no idea what you've gotten yourself into. Do you think it is really a coincidence that I am the one with the largest collection of Spence's journals?"

Gerard laughs a little hysterically. "I can't… Probably not. And I don't know what they could even tell me. I don't think Celtic myth is the answer, but I don't know what else to do. These dreams, even when they're fairly normal. They still… I can't keep on like this. I have to find him or. I don't know. Something."

"Reliving his life, in your dreams. What I wouldn't give -" Grant cuts himself off. Focus. He needs to focus. "And you're sure you don't know where he is?"

"I wish I did," Gerard whispers. "I've visited so many places he's been, but for every place he stopped and stayed, there are about a hundred he passed right through. I - I've never been so tired."

"I haven't seen him in… a very long time. I don't know where he is. But perhaps I am the answer, Gerard. Perhaps I can help you sort through the information in your dreams," Grant offers.

"You can't just... call him or whatever? That's what he said, in the garden. He said I called him. I don't know how I did but -" And oh, the boy looks so hopeful, and yes, so exhausted. Grant wants to smooth the lines out of his forehead, and isn't that a surprise? Empathy for a mortal. He truly is a failure as a demon.

"I cannot," Grant says regretfully. "I… do not possess the ability to call him, no matter how much I wish it."

"Do you wish it?" Gerard asks him.

"More than I wish for anything on this earth," Grant replies. Gerard looks at him for a moment. He looks sad. Grant can still hear the way he whispered, "I loved you," and it's strange to think that this mortal may have felt it, felt even an echo of what Frank feels. "But I can't call to him. And I imagine that you doing so might be dangerous to him, because he is a fool and doesn't know how to conserve his power," Grant says with a sigh.

"I can't imagine why we'd have this connection if I wasn't meant to find him," Gerard says, slumping back in his chair and closing his eyes.

"Which is why you must stay here. Perhaps the answers you seek are in the Spence journals after all, though I must warn you I never found any in them. And perhaps - perhaps the answer is in your dreams after all, and we should explore them together."

"I..." Gerard gives Grant a crooked little smile. "I suppose I should expect kindness from an angel."

Foolish man, I am using you, Grant wants to say. "You are obviously quite exhausted. Why don't I see you to the guest room for the night? I'll give you a notebook. You can write down any details of your dreams you happen to remember as soon as you wake," Grant says.

"I've been doing that for a while," Gerard admits. Grant takes a deep breath.

"Then I will get you a fresh notebook and look through yours," Grant says. His fingers are itching for it.

"It's late," Gerard protests weakly. "Don't you -"

"Night owl," Grant reminds him. "Now let's go get your bag." He escorts Gerard upstairs and gets him settled in the guest room. Grant retrieves a blank book from his office. Gerard hands over his dream journal and Grant suddenly feels as if he's handling a precious object. "Should you need anything, my bedroom is just down there," he points, "and I'll likely be across the hall in my office if I'm not there."

 

***

 

Gerard startles himself awake in the middle of the night. He's stunned that he managed to sleep at all, but exhaustion won out, and only the earsplitting screech of a train whistle...train whistle? More train dreams, then.

Gerard fumbles for the bedside lamp. He sits up and grabs the journal and pen on the nightstand. He writes every detail he remembers. He feels like he's racing his sleepy brain to get everything written down before he forgets it again. He even sketches a few figures of people he remembers. They mean nothing to him, but perhaps Grant will know... something.

Grant. Gerard shivers a bit. His feelings about Grant are confusing. On the one hand, he wasn't lying when he says he knows Grant. He has all of... Frank? Yes, Grant said it was Frank. He has Frank's memories swirling in his head, his feelings. He knows in his bones that Grant is trustworthy. And he can't help the echo of love for him that Frank has given him. It's strange and troubling. And that doesn't even begin to cover Gerard's very human feelings about being in the home of a fucking angel.

He pulls the covers back up over his head and wills sleep to return. It doesn't come for what feels like hours. Finally he drifts off.

He dreams again. This time, Grant's grinning face is staring back at him from about ten feet. The words he's saying are harsh, but he is joyous. Thrilled to see the figure in front of him. "You're trespassing," his voice, Frank's voice says. "You know the penalties."

"I felt it was worth the risk," Grant replies and steps closer.

"If it had been anyone but me on duty tonight...."

"My good little soldier," Grant says fondly.

"And you are typically misbehaving," Frank huffs.

Grant smiles and steps forward again. "I watched for days to make sure I'd get the timing right. Do give me some credit. And I am meant to misbehave, am I not?" he asks silkily, fingers skimming through the air close, so close to Gerard's - Frank's - chest. He doesn't touch, though. And Frank doesn't move to touch him.

Why? Gerard thinks. He feels how desperately Frank wants it. But they still don't touch. Just stand as close as they can get without physical contact. "I've missed you so," he murmurs.

"I cannot come more often than this," Grant says, voice filled with regret. "My brethren trust no one, and they watch me."

"And mine would smite you," he replies. "I prefer you whole."

"I am not whole," Grant replies. "Not without you."

His entire being aches. "We can't..." He trails off. Talking about this for the hundredth time will change nothing.

Oh, Gerard thinks. Grant isn't an angel at all.

*

Later, in the morning, when he's sitting with Grant and sipping a cup of coffee, he says, "You could have told me, you know."

"Told you what?" Grant asks casually. Too casually. Gerard takes a deep breath and hands him the book where he's scrawled the conversation as he remembers it. Grant reads it silently, then looks up and Gerard sees the fire in his eyes. "I have not seen him since the night he healed me in St-Germain. He had a key to hide and neither of us had our powers," Grant explains. "It's been over two hundred years. You are my only link to him, aside from my own fleeting vision not long ago. I didn't want to frighten you away."

"Do you really think I could be frightened away when I'm having such a hard fucking time sorting his feelings from my own?" Gerard asks.

"What does that mean?" Grant - the demon, shit - asks quietly.

"It means it's hard for me to look at you right now," Gerard says, "without remembering how much he -" He can feel himself turning red. He forces himself to look up at Grant. "I've never wanted anyone so much in my life. Never loved anyone like that. Never."

"Oh, yes," Grant says, lips curving somewhat wickedly. "You were a priest." Gerard just laughs.

"I wasn't some chaste little altar boy who felt the call my whole life. I went to art school first. Lived in the world, had a job. I've fucked plenty of people and been in love. I know the difference."

"I see," Grant says. Gerard resists squirming under the weight of his gaze.

Grant hands him a plate of toast and Gerard takes a piece. "So what do you think of the dreams?"

"I saw enough to know you have a genuine connection, somehow. Not enough to know for sure where he might be now. Perhaps we need to try harder."

"I'm not trying at all," Gerard frowns.

"It's possible we could force the dreams. You implied that they're more intense after you've touched one of the birds?" Grant asks.

"I think so. Clearer, anyway," Gerard says.

"Foolish angel," Grant mutters. "Leaving parts of himself in cold little stone birds."

"Do you think we need to find more of them?" Gerard asks when Grant subsides.

"We could, I think," Grant answers. "From reading your dream journal it appears he went to America. Want to take me home, Gerard?" The demon's smile is sharp but strangely warm all the same.

"Sounds better than any other offer I've gotten recently," Gerard says with a sardonic smile and a shrug. The thing is, it's true.

"What other offers have you gotten recently?" Grant asks with a filthy twinkle in his eye. "Do tell."

Gerard shrugs again. "Drunken or drugged-out hookups at parties. Half of them actually had the balls to tell me they'd be the one to fuck God out of the former priest. I almost said yes to a couple of them. The honesty was refreshing. Oh, and a woman on the streets of Rome I'm fairly certain would have charged me after."

"Amateurs," Grant scoffs. "Takes more than a good fuck to drive out the Father. A phenomenal fuck, maybe. And any professional knows to get payment in advance."

Gerard laughs. "Guess I shouldn't bother trying to shock a demon, huh."

"Your attempts are illuminating and delightful, though, so don't stop."

"Do I require illumination?" Gerard asks.

"Only to highlight which are your best features," Grant replies smoothly. Gerard knows he's joking, but he can't help the flush that starts working its way up his face. "You do blush nicely," he adds. "Can you blame me?"

Gerard should protest right now. He should. He knows this. But he doesn't want to. It's been a long time since he got this kind of attention. And he can't help but find this very welcome indeed, because part of him already loves this demon he just met.

"Whatever amuses you," Gerard replies finally. Grant doesn't tease then, just gives him an appraising look.

"I have to tell my vassals my plans, but after that, we can leave at any time," Grant says. "Though, they may take it upon themselves to join us."

"You have vassals?" Gerard says incredulously. "Last I checked the feudal system had fallen."

"Not where I'm from," Grant says darkly. "But I misspoke. My dearest friends and companions."

"Huh. So they..."

"When such things mattered, they were my subordinates, yes. Now I call them that out of habit," Grant explains. "I think you will like them. You said you went to art school?" Gerard nods. "They both decided to turn their attention and their very, very long lives to the arts when our powers left us."

"Your powers?" Gerard asks. "I don't -"

"It is part of a long story," Grant replies. "But if the only power left to a soul is immortality, Gerard... Isn't that enough? Isn't that too much?" He sounds bitter.

"An eternity of not being able to touch the person you love sounds pretty fucking miserable," Gerard says quietly.

"You have no idea," Grant replies.

"I have some," Gerard says. He reaches out. His hand shakes, but he lays his hand against Grant's cheek, half expecting it to sear his palm. Grant sucks in a breath and leans into the touch. "I know I'm not him. But I also know that sometimes all you want is someone, anyone, to touch you."

"There are some offers a noble person would refuse," Grant replies slowly. "I am not at all noble, Gerard. I would suggest you keep that in mind."

"You'll know when I'm offering," Gerard murmurs. When, not if. He knows himself well enough to know that. Grant just eyes him over his coffee and says nothing more. Idiot, Gerard tells himself. This is taking your vows to the opposite extreme. But that doesn't mean he'll listen.

 

***

 

Frank is alone the next time the shock runs through him, the eerie gooseflesh feeling. He's about to go to bed, and with his skin crawling he can hardly concentrate on anything, much less relax enough to sleep.

One time, he'd say it was a fluke, but the same feeling twice is significant. He is sure of it. He just wishes he knew exactly what it meant, what it was. Something important is happening somewhere. Once, when he was young and newly made and the world was newer still, he'd have asked the Father. Maybe he wouldn't have even had to ask. But they've chosen their silence, the brethren of the Gates, and with silence comes a need for patience, for self-reliance. Frank does not have a great deal of patience in reserve.

He lies awake for several hours. He tries to read for about twenty minutes, but he can't concentrate. All he can do is remember the feeling and wonder about it. He's glad he has the next day off, because otherwise work would suck extra hard.

When he finally falls asleep, his dreams are disordered, except for one long stretch, oddly muted like a movie with the sound turned down low. He's walking through a cemetery and he stops to light a cigarette. Frank sucks down the smoke but the enjoyment doesn't come, and that's when he realizes he's not himself. A dream of the priest again, then.

He sits on the grass by a mausoleum, then breathes in sharply, twitching aside a scraggly plant to reveal a carving. Fingers - not his fingers, it's been quite some time since his arms were so conspicuously bare - reach out to brush the mossy stone and a shock runs up his arm. He looks closely at the stone and sees… one of his birds. For a long time, he carved one everywhere he went, every place he stopped or worked. He left a few when he first got to San Francisco, but he hasn't in a long time, not since he decided to settle here.

First Assisi, now New Jersey. Same man. "Are you following me?" Frank asks his ceiling when he wakes. "Are you trying to find me?" Part of Frank hopes so, but he knows he doesn't have the power to look for the priest. Frank remembers how he felt after the stunt of trying to see Grant. "I want to help you," he mumbles, turning his pillow over to the cool side. His dreams refer to their typical jumble, and he sleeps late until a ray of sunshine sneaks through his blinds.

He's sitting on his couch drinking coffee and feeling exhausted when there's a knock on the door. He's not expecting anyone, but sometimes neighbors or drunks knock on his door, so it's not too out of the ordinary. He looks through the peephole and his eyes widen. This has the potential to be good or very, very bad. "Hello, Jeph," he says as he unlocks the door and pulls it open.

"Frankie," Jepha says and leans forward to hug him. Frank returns the embrace, but he's confused. He and Jepha haven't spoken in years. Not even the odd note or card.

"It's good to see your face, brother," Frank says. "Will you come inside?" He knows his expression is probably painfully hopeful. Jeph's siblings had been among those who had dissented with the majority about the sealing of the Gates. Jepha had always been a friend, and he'd supported Frank's faction at first. Frank doesn't blame Jeph for siding with his siblings in the end, but he wishes they still spoke. Some rifts, it seems, may never be mended.

Jepha steps inside. "It's been too long," he murmurs.

"Despite that, something tells me you're not here just because you missed my pretty face," Frank jokes.

"Unfortunately, you're correct. We can feel your power," Jepha says. "Is your key safe?" Frank can't help but smile. It's just like Jepha to be so direct.

"It's as safe as I can make it," Frank assures him. "My siblings would be here in a blink of an eye if I needed them." Jepha nods tightly, and Frank lays a hand on his shoulder. "Coffee, Jeph? No, tea for you."

"You remembered," Jepha says with a bit of a smile.

"Course I did. Come in the kitchen with me." Frank can already guess what the next question is going to be, and Jepha doesn't disappoint.

"But why the power?"

"There was an earthquake. In Assisi. I believe the Gate was cracked. Not enough to break the bindings, but enough to give us powers. They are very limited. Like a tiny trickle," Frank explains.

"An earthquake," Jepha says. "That, I would not have predicted."

"It was... surprising," Frank drawls. "And I don't recommend it as a method for reviving our powers. I got a job at a free clinic. Mostly been using it for healing," Frank says with a shrug. Jepha smiles.

"That's just like you, Frankie."

"I figured...well, what if it goes away again? Might as well do some good with it while I have it." He hands Jepha a mug of tea and refreshes his own coffee. Jepha takes a sip and then cocks his head.

"Look, Frank. That's what I'm here about." Finally down to business. Frank holds back a sigh. "I'm sorry, Frankie. But the brethren are worried. The seal took away the powers of the angels and demons alike, and I may not have been in favor of that then, but it's just too dangerous to see it creeping back now. To anyone."

"You mean to me," Frank says, and Jepha doesn't deny it. "What can I do? It's not as if I intended to get any powers back. And you know that I, of all people, would not advocate the Gates being reopened. I'd rather have my powers gone again."

Jepha looks upset by that, and Frank braces himself. "You know what you have to do, if the key is threatened," Jepha tells him.

"So this is why they sent you," Frank says quietly.

"I volunteered," Jepha says. "Because I care about you."

"I will do it. You don't have to fucking worry about me," Frank replies.

"And if he asks you not to?" Jepha asks.

"He doesn't even know where I am," Frank sighs. Jepha is the only one who knows about Grant, other than his own siblings - though he knows some of the other brethren suspect - and he's always chosen to trust Frank anyway. "And you of all people know I have always done my duty. And I always will."

"He doesn't know where you are?" Jepha asks, disbelieving. "There was a time when I couldn't turn around, but you were meeting with him clandestinely."

"Yes, well. St-Germain happened. All of it happened and neither of us could bear it any longer," Frank replies. "Two hundred years and change isn't so very long." It's utterly unconvincing and Frank knows it. "Better to let distance keep our resolve for us."

Jepha just shakes his head. "I don't know how you stand it."

Frank laughs. "I don't, not really. Most of the time I try very, very hard not to think about it."

They sit quietly for a while, sipping their drinks. Finally Jepha says, "If I don't leave now, I never will. I can feel the power around you. It's -" his voice cracks.

"I'm sorry," Frank tells him. "I don't know what -"

"I was wrong," Jepha interrupts. "If it had to be anyone, it's probably good that it was you. Except for -" He doesn't keep going, but Frank understands. Most of the brethren would not condemn Frank for his feelings for Grant. They still remember what it was like before the Fall, when they were all one.

Jepha stands and Frank shows him to the door. He gives Frank one last hug. "Be well, Frank."

"You and yours also," Frank replies, and then he's gone. Frank leans back against his door and sighs. It's not fair that his entire life is conspiring to make him think of Grant now.

"I know my duty," he tells his empty house. "And he is on our side, even if the rest of you don't trust him. Not that it matters." He thunks his head back against the door a few more times. He needs a distraction. He wants to fly. Which he knows is foolish on many levels, but once upon a time, he'd go flying after every meeting with Grant. Fly until he was weak and could barely get home.

You made us flesh, he thinks. His siblings have each other for company, at least, but he - All he can hear is Grant's voice, murmuring seductively, Flesh... addictive... sin. It is the one way his demon is truly dangerous to him. If only he had the comfort of knowing he was just a demon behaving as demons do. But he knows Grant loves him. Knows he longs for Frank just as much as Frank longs for him. And will continue longing for him, because there's simply nothing else to be done about it.

 

***

 

As suspected, Cameron and Vince are rather concerned upon their arrival. Especially when they learn Gerard is, in fact, looking for Frank. "Why must everything always come back to him?" Cameron grumps.

"I'd suggest that the Father enjoys torturing me, but I suspect Falling put us all rather off His radar," Grant says. Gerard hasn't said anything yet. Grant suspects he's overwhelmed by Vince and Cameron.

"I'm tempted to insist we accompany you," Vince says. "But I doubt our presence would actually make a difference."

"He misbehaves with or without provocation," Cameron tells Gerard. Grant can tell his younger vassal is very amused by his relationship with the ex-priest.

"He's a fucking demon. I'd be surprised if he didn't," Gerard replies with a little grin.

"For the record," Vince says, "I think this plan is madness and will only lead to pain, but if that's what you're going to do, well. Cameron and I are only a phone call away if you need us to come."

"They think you're using me," Gerard says matter-of-factly.

"I am," Grant says. "But I also want to help you, so I feel I come out even. If I pay for your travel, you may even come out ahead."

"You don't need to," Gerard says, sounding adorably awkward. "I, uh, saved quite a bit as a priest. Enough to get me by for a while."

"I'll have to think of other ways to help you come out ahead," Grant teases. He just... can't help it. Gerard blushes again, and he's really not sure why he should have to help anything. Except Vince gives him a look.

Vince gets him alone when Gerard and Cameron fall to discussion of some point of European tourism. "Grant, what are you doing?"

"Helping a troubled young man and by doing so, tracking down Frank again. Hopefully," Grant replies.

"Are you planning on fucking his troubles away, my friend? Because seducing a priest would be a new item in your repertoire."

"If he wants me to, I wouldn't be opposed," Grant replies with a shrug. "And he left the priesthood. Besides, I've wanted to seduce an angel for centuries. Surely that's worse?"

"You have seduced an angel," Vince says. "You just haven't closed the deal. I just don't want to see you take advantage of that boy."

"He's an adult, and I swear I will not pressure or deceive him. When did you grow a conscience, Vin?"

"Right after you did," Vince replies. Grant smiles ruefully and reaches out to squeeze his shoulder.

"I can't not go. So we shall see what happens. I promise to call if I need you."

*

Grant looks steadily and silently at Gerard once his vassals are gone. "You are very brave," he says. Gerard laughs.

"Or very stupid. But you're my best hope and I can't go on living like I have been."

"I apologize if my brothers made you feel that you were -"

"A defenseless maiden?" Gerard says with a glimmer of amusement.

Grant laughs. "Yes, precisely."

"People always underestimate me. I'm good at using that to my advantage," Gerard replies.

"I find you more fascinating by the moment," Grant tells him. Gerard smiles.

"I can't lie, I kind of like that. So what's the plan? When do you want to leave? I... kind of quit my job months and months ago, so I don't exactly have any commitments."

"Let's stay the week - I promised you the Spence journals, after all."

"I do want to read them. And maybe I'll have some useful dreams," Gerard replies. Grant breathes in through his nose. How he wishes his own dreams were so kind. They never are.

"I'll get you the journals. I know I don't have to tell you to be careful with them."

*

Watching Gerard read is not keeping Grant calm, however pretty it may be. He hasn't been this on edge in decades. He goes on a few runs, tries to do his own reading. Writes. None of it helps.

"You're very tense," Gerard murmurs one evening, coming up behind him as he sits at his desk and stares out the window. "I'm sorry."

"You are just a part of it," Grant says. "I've been feeling something coming for a long while."

"Well, I'm sorry I'm contributing," Gerard replies. He puts a hand on Grant's shoulder. Grant looks up at him over his shoulder. He's lovely in his black button-down shirt and waistcoat. He looks like he hasn't quite figured out how to dress since leaving the priesthood.

Grant pivots his chair. Gerard's hand falls away but he doesn't quite step back far enough when Grant stands. "Now would be a good time to inform me if you are offering, or not," Grant murmurs. Gerard is close and warm, so warm, but in a human way.

"I like your house. I like you," Gerard says softly. "I... want to feel. I want to know I'm allowed to feel good things."

"And if I tell you that every time I touch you, I feel the pieces of Frank you've taken in, does that change your answer?" Grant asks.

"I... It still makes me happy. That I can give you that," Gerard says haltingly. Grant cups his cheeks.

"You deserve good. You deserve my attention. And I shall give it to you." He leans in and presses his mouth to Gerard's. Gerard gasps softly into the kiss, and Grant keeps it light, letting Gerard decide. He may be a seducer, but he seduces with choice.

Slowly, so slowly, Gerard starts losing himself in Grant's kisses. He curls his arms around Grant's neck and sighs with pleasure. It's a sweet victory. One Grant cherishes, because - he's playing fair. And because in all honesty, it's been many, many years since he's done this too.

"Fuck," Gerard whispers against his lips. "It's... fuck. Can we... I don't want to be standing anymore."

"Knees going weak, beautiful?" Grant says with a smile, kissing down Gerard's neck. "I'd be happy to move somewhere more comfortable. If that's what you want."

Grant guides Gerard to the sofa behind them. Gerard sits and pulls Grant down on top of him. "Better?" Grant asks. "Because I like the view." He straddles Gerard's thighs comfortably and toys with the buttons at his throat.

Gerard smiles shyly up at him and pulls him back down. "Kiss me. I missed it," he whispers. "Maybe most of all."

Grant kisses him. Long and slow. He slides his tongue against Gerard's. Gerard responds with enthusiasm, wrapping his arms tightly around Grant, hooking one of his ankles over Grant's thigh. He's warm and pliable and a bit fumbling. Oh, so human. Beautiful and quite possibly addictive. He untucks Gerard's shirt and slides a hand over his stomach. Gerard moans and arches against him. "Beautiful," Grant murmurs against his lips.

"You're so warm," Gerard says with a little laugh. "I can't. This is so good."

Grant runs fingers through his hair. "Are you ready for more?"

"I... keep kissing me?" Gerard whispers.

"Until you tell me to stop," Grant whispers back. And he does, exploring every inch of Gerard's mouth until Gerard gasps, then moving to his jaw, throat, the jut of his collarbone under the collar of his shirt.

"Grant," Gerard gasps. "Fuck." Grant bites down on his neck lightly, just to see how he'll react, and the result is better than he could have imagined. Gerard clutches at his shoulders, back arching, groaning his name again. "Please," he cries out. Grant sucks the spot hard and then bites again, but harder. Gerard moans again, holds him close.

"Anywhere else you want my mouth? My teeth?" Grant asks.

"I can't - everywhere, but..."

"I can keep it right where it is, too," Grant murmurs. "Wherever you want."

"Like this is perfect," Gerard says, nuzzling back. "For now."

Grant finds his lips again, kisses him and kisses him. He takes Gerard's bottom lip between his teeth and tugs. Gerard whimpers and wriggles against him again. "Yes, beautiful. More of the same. Or just more. Whenever you say the word."

Gerard just kisses him. Kisses until things slow, until all he knows is Gerard's mouth. Finally Gerard wriggles out from under him, but curls to face him and traces Grant's eyebrows with a knuckle. "If I go to bed now..."

"We can stay here," Grant replies. He's surprised at how much he wants to merely hold Gerard. So he will. As long as he can. Gerard tucks his face against Grant's neck and somewhat tentatively wraps an arm over Grant's waist. Grant is surprised how protective he feels. He feels. It's been so long. He cups the back of Gerard's head and holds him in place and listens to him breathe, and actually drifts off to sleep himself. And dreams.

He's somewhere sunny; he can see clear skies out the window and Frank smiling at him from across the table. "You slept late, love," Frank teases him. "Too worn out from last night?" He reaches out and slides his palm over Grant's forearm.

Grant covers Frank's hand with his. He knows then, that this isn't real. But he doesn't want to question it, doesn't want it to stop. "I'm awake now," he says softly. "I love you."

"Not as much as I love you," Frank says. "Now, am I taking Gerard's coffee upstairs or are you?"

Grant smiles. "Why don't we both do it? Ease him into wakefulness in the most pleasant way possible."

"So predictable. In the most pleasant way possible," Frank grins. He stands, reaches out to tug Grant to his feet, stretches to kiss him and -

He blinks awake in a mostly dark room, Gerard still tucked against him. Fuck, he thinks. That was... Dreaming of things that can never be. I want to go back there, he thinks sadly. To wherever it was. He kisses Gerard's forehead. Strange that someone he's known just two days had figured in such a dream, the best dream Grant has had in years. Maybe he caused it, this mortal who's touched by Frank's grace.

He should wake Gerard up and send him to bed, but he can't quite bring himself to do so. Neither of them need to sleep on the sofa. He plays with a lock of Gerard's shaggy hair instead, until Gerard wakes. It's a gradual, gorgeous process. Grant has to hold back from kissing him.

"Offer still on the table?" Grant asks quietly. Gerard nods.

"Yeah," he murmurs and leans in to run his mouth up Grant's throat.

"Still taking things slow?"

Gerard nods again. "Not trying to tease," he mumbles against Grant's jaw.

"I know you aren't," Grant says and rolls them so Gerard is on top of him.

Gerard studies him for a long time, eyes tracing over Grant's face with an intent expression Grant recognizes from watching Vince and Cameron draw, and finally he says, "And if I ask to sleep with you tonight?"

"I would say yes," Grant replies. "Whether you mean it literally or figuratively."

"I'm so tired. And we leave tomorrow afternoon. Can we go to bed now?"

Grant chuckles and tucks Gerard's hair behind his ear and tells him, "Yes, we can go now." Gerard rolls off him and onto his feet and Grant follows.

His bedroom feels different with someone else in it. When they finally settle down, Gerard curls into his side. "I missed this too. Sleeping with someone."

"I don't stay close to anyone for long," Grant admits. "Except Cameron and Vin."

"And Frank," Gerard says, like he's still testing the name out.

"And Frank," Grant says. "But we've never... before, the best we could do was spend stolen time in each other's presence."

"Do you think it will be different now?" Gerard asks sleepily.

"No," Grant replies. "If losing our powers didn't help, nothing can." On the one hand, never being able to have hope about this has made dealing with it easier. On the other... he's tired.

"You can have me," Gerard mumbles, half asleep already. "I don't mind being second choice."

Grant kisses the top of his head. "Foolish, foolish boy," he murmurs when he's sure Gerard is asleep. It's only been a few days, but Grant knows Gerard enough to know he deserves so much more than second choice.

 

***

 

Gerard isn't sure what Ray and Mikey are going to do when he shows up at their door with a demon. Not that Grant looks the part, but Gerard already called and explained the situation to Mikey, so at least it's not a total shock. When they do open the door, both of them seem vaguely wary, but mostly interested. And Grant is charming enough that the wariness fades quickly. Gerard briefly wonders if he's been taken in, but it's only a fleeting thought. He'd know if Grant were a danger. Frank's dreams would tell him.

Gerard goes to repack a bag in his room, keeping an ear out for argument, but all he overhears is Grant telling Mikey and Ray much the same story he's told Gerard. Gerard makes short work of packing and when he reappears, asks Grant if he wants to take a drive.

Gerard leads Grant out to his car. "Hopefully not starting it for three weeks won't be a problem." It's a boring sedan and suddenly Gerard hates it. Hates it a lot. "So many things in my life are so boring," he says apologetically.

"You are decidedly not," Grant tells him, getting into the passenger seat.

He almost makes the familiar drive to his old church, but he can't handle that right now. Doesn't know if he he'll ever be able to. Instead, he drives to the cemetery. Maybe he can say hi to Elena while he's there. "This way," he tells Grant when he parks at the cemetery, leading him to the mausoleum. He kneels down and pulls back the weeds. "There," he points.

"Oh, Frank," Grant murmurs. It's madness, but Gerard likes to listen to Grant say Frank's name.

Grant stoops down next to him and reaches out. His fingers hover over the bird. He traces the lines in the air and sighs.

"Why won't you touch it?" Gerard asks.

"Because if they've affected you so strongly, there is no telling what they would do to me. It would likely be painful," he murmurs.

"And touching me isn't painful?" Gerard asks.

"No... I can't quite describe it. I certainly feel it more than I do most other humans," Grant replies and stands. Gerard reaches out to take Grant's hand.

"Do you mind if we go say hi to my grandma?" he asks.

"Lead the way," Grant answers, and Gerard does.

Grant stays back a bit when Gerard stops and kneels by Elena's stone, but Gerard is sure he can still hear. "I miss you," he says. "I cleaned up since I was last here. Stopped with all that shit. I think you'd be proud of me. Mikey and Ray helped a lot. I was pretty lost, after I left. Maybe I still am, but I feel better about it. I should probably try to find another job, but I don't know what to do with myself, Grandma, and my head's still not right. But I wanted to let you know I'm trying."

He takes a deep breath and stands again. Grant is waiting for him and takes his hand again. It's amazing, Gerard thinks, how nice that feels. "Are you sure about this whole demon thing?" Gerard says. "You are really fucking... kind."

Grant smiles a little ruefully. "My fall was not the dramatic affair that Lucifer's was, and I have not considered myself one of them for a long time. And even Lucifer has some kindness in him. Remember, history is written by the winners."

"I must seem so dull," Gerard says again.

"You are the least dull person I've met in at least several hundred years. Possibly more," Grant says.

"Bet you say that to all the boys," Gerard quips.

Grant just stares at him for a moment. "Why aren't you afraid of me?" he says bluntly.

"Because he's not," Gerard says immediately.

"Then why aren't you afraid of him?" Grant asks.

"I… don't know. He doesn't feel like someone I should be afraid of. And the one time I actually talked to him, he was… I think he was really startled. I was in a bad place anyway and freaked out. Not as much because of him, but more because I was having a vision in the middle of a courtyard in Assisi," Gerard explains.

"Your brother and his boyfriend are not afraid of me either."

Gerard laughs. "They trust me. Lord only knows why. I still have moments where I am pretty sure I'm going to wake up and find that this has all been a dream."

"A pleasant dream, or a nightmare?" Grant asks.

"If you'd asked me a week ago, I'd have said it was a terrible dream and I wanted to wake up, but things are looking brighter," Gerard replies and squeezes Grant's hand.

"You must forgive me," Grant says as they climb back into the car. "I'm not accustomed to being a provider of hope."

Gerard laughs. "Well, I'm not used to having dreams that are the memories of angels or meeting demons. You get used to change."

"I think I've seen too much change to register it anymore," Grant says, and Gerard laughs and squeezes his hand.

"You've spent too long in your bubble with Vince and Cameron. The world is weird and full of weird people."

*

That night, when Gerard waves off Ray's mutterings about making up the couch for Grant to sleep on, he gets a look from both of them. Mikey actually takes him aside. "You're sleeping with him?"

Gerard wasn't quite expecting this. Wasn't prepared. "Just sleeping," he says. "Although the other thing... you said you were okay with the demon thing."

"I'm just a little surprised that you're that okay with the - the sex thing, all right? I mean... Gerard, you were a priest."

"Past tense. I was a priest. And now I'm not. And yeah, it's a little strange to get used to but… I like being touched by someone," he tries to explain. "I like the physical reminder that I might get to be happy again someday. It's not… I'm not on a rebound from God. That already happened with shit way more dangerous than sex."

Mikey sighs and hugs him. "Okay, sorry. This is weird for me too. I guess I got used to how things were before. This is - it's better now. I want you to have what Ray and I have."

Gerard hugs him back tight. "I dunno if that will happen, you guys got really damn lucky, but it's nice to have the option again."

Grant gives him an amused look later on when they're alone in the guest room. "I do bring trouble wherever I go," he says. Gerard is pretty sure he's not entirely joking.

"It wasn't trouble. Mikey just worries. And not without reason," Gerard replies with a rueful smile. "And besides, if you cause trouble wherever you go, maybe it's the sort of trouble that needs causing."

Gerard starts to change for bed, conscious of Grant watching him. Last night, he'd been half-asleep when they went to bed, and tonight he keeps his eyes on his pajamas, too, until Grant says his name softly. "Gerard. Share yourself with me. Let me do the same."

He gives his pajamas one last look and moves toward the bed. He's still in his t-shirt and briefs, but he's pretty sure Grant won't mind. Grant wraps his arms around Gerard and pulls him into his lap. Grant has stripped down to his own briefs, and he is so warm - deliciously warm. Gerard presses himself against Grant's skin wherever he can.

Grant kisses him slowly, hands roving over Gerard's arms, back, thighs. "You are beautifully made," he murmurs.

Gerard kisses him. That's all he can do. Grant's hands are warm at the small of his back under his shirt. He pushes Gerard's shirt up, and Gerard raises his arms and the shirt is off. This is the most skin anyone not Mikey has seen in ten years. He shivers.

"Tell me where I can touch you," Grant says quietly into his ear.

"How about I tell you to stop if I want you to?" Gerard asks. He can't possibly decide.

"Sounds fair," Grant says. He doesn't waste time, just slides his hands down Gerard's back and slips them both inside his briefs to cup his ass and pull their hips together. Gerard gasps quietly, and Grant just laughs and urges him to roll his hips, nipping gently at his neck at the same time.

Gerard tips his head to give Grant more access and slides his own hands over Grant's skin. It feels almost as good to touch as it does to be touched. To feel skin under his fingers and know without a shadow of a doubt that the person he is with is real and desires him. Grant downplays his returned powers as insignificant, and perhaps they are compared to what they once were, but something about him is utterly bewitching. It feels like being seduced, anyway. Gerard is already primed, and he feels like he's coming alive. He can do some seducing of his own.

He moves his hips against Grant's, feels as he starts getting hard, enjoys the little moan he releases against Gerard's neck. "Wouldn't be the first time I gave someone a lap dance," Gerard whispers, rolling his hips a little harder. "There's no music, but maybe you can just use your imagination."

Grant chuckles and runs his fingers up Gerard's sides, over his chest. Gerard puts his hands in his hair and arches his back and grinds against Grant. Yeah, he remembers how this goes and fuck, it feels good. He could come like this, so easily. Wants to make Grant come, too. With his eyes closed, it's startling to feel Grant's hot mouth close over one of his nipples, and Gerard jumps a little but pushes into it immediately.

He wraps his hands around the back of Grant's head and holds while he continues to work his hips. Grant moans and rolls Gerard onto his back, pins his wrists over his head. "Fuck," Gerard moans. He hooks his ankles around Grant's thighs and thrusts up against Grant.

"Is this what you want?" Grant breathes against his skin. "Like this?" Grant's hands are tight around his wrists, his teeth pressing into the base of his throat. The friction is unbelievably good.

It's good, but he wants his briefs off. Wants to feel Grant everywhere. "Please," he gasps. "I want…" he trails off into a moan when Grant rolls his hips again.

Grant lets go of his wrists. "Don't move," he murmurs, pushing up and off of Gerard. He gasps at the sudden rush of cool air, at the tug of elastic at his hips as Grant peels down Gerard's briefs, then his own, shoving the fabric down just enough. Gerard can feel his eyes roll back when Grant spits in his palm and takes them both in hand, and he arches up, hard. "I asked you not to move," Grant reminds him.

Gerard whimpers, but tries to stay still. Grant's hand slides over him, both of them, and Grant's cock is hot and hard against his. "How long has it been since any hand but your own touched you?" Grant murmurs in his ear.

"Ten years," he whispers. "More than. I know that sounds like nothing to you, but -"

"It sounds like ten years," Grant says, hushing him. "And ten years is a long time to go without being touched. I would know." Grant leans down to kiss him, slides his tongue against Gerard's as his hand slides fast and smooth over their cocks. Gerard pushes up into his fist as hard as he dares, whimpering deep in his throat as Grant twists his hand around them, slick with spit and precome. Grant swallows that noise, stroking his tongue faster, his hand faster, sinking a hand into Gerard's hair, and Gerard can feel him everywhere as he comes, spilling into Grant's grip and gasping as Grant pulses against him and joins him.

Gerard pulls back and pants into Grant's neck, clings to him. His whole body feels good. Incredible. And Grant's weight, Grant's arms, they feel even better. He kisses his way up Grant's jaw to his mouth. "Thank you," he whispers, and kisses him again.

Grant cups Gerard's cheeks as they kiss and Gerard doesn't ever want it to end.

Eventually Grant pulls back and cleans them up and gets their briefs the rest of the way off. Gerard murmurs happily into his chest when he returns, and they fall asleep with legs entangled. Gerard dreams.

He's perched high up over water. It almost feels like flying, being up in the air like this. It's why he took the job. He looks back down and tightens the bolt before moving to the next one. Gerard feels a rush of vertigo, but Frank moves comfortably and Gerard stares avidly at anything within his range of vision.

It's a bridge spanning halfway across a river, and he's on the very edge, clearly helping to build it forward. He feels happy up here, and that's something he hasn't felt in a while. He likes working, likes moving his body and being sore and tired at the end of the day. Most of the humans he's working with are rough men, but often decent, too. They also work hard, and drink hard, and Frank enjoys spending time with them.

He misses everyone. He hopes, especially, that Katherine and James are well. Gerard realizes they must be the people who carried Frank away from St-Germain. Gerard wonders why he's by himself now. A whistle blows, Frank thinks lunch, and Gerard wakes up with a sharp intake of breath.

It's light out already. He's not pleased about the whole morning thing and his heart is still sort of racing, but he's got a hot guy in his arms and no set plan on where they need to be. He dutifully rolls over and pulls his dream journal toward him. He tries to write down his impressions, but it degenerates into sketching the bridge.

Grant wraps around him from behind, settling his chin on Gerard's shoulder. "Another dream?"

"Mmm," Gerard replies. "He was working on a bridge. Like, helping construct it."

"What kind of bridge?"

"A railroad bridge. Like this." Gerard taps the drawing. "And he was by himself. He kept thinking about his friends, but he wasn't with them. I don't know why."

"Odd that he would leave them," Grant murmurs. "But I'm sure he had his reasons."

"I haven't seen much of them at all. Just little glimpses. Maybe they haven't lived close like you and the others," Gerard murmurs.

"Cameron left us for a while," Grant tells him. "But it did not last. I knew it wouldn't."

"I think maybe Frank was the one to leave," Gerard says. "He seems... really alone."

Grant sighs. "Let's figure out where to go from here. I need -"

"To find him," Gerard finishes and kisses his cheek. "We will. I can ask around and we can look at pictures of bridges? I'm assuming this is west somewhere."

"Go west, young man?" Grant says with a bit of a smile, kissing back.

"Apparently," Gerard says with a laugh. "I think I'm done sketching. That's all I remember."

"Shall we be respectable and make your brother and his partner breakfast? Or laze in bed?" Grant asks.

"Ray gets up disgustingly early," Gerard tells him. "So there's probably coffee already. But lazing is okay too."

"I see that gleam in your eyes and it's not for lazing. Let's get up, then. Get some coffee," Grant says with a grin.

They get dressed and Gerard snags his journal at the last minute. Ray's sort of magical. Maybe he will have some ideas.

They go downstairs to the kitchen for coffee, and Grant actually does get out eggs and a few potatoes that are starting to sprout in their bag and starts making breakfast. Ray looks at Gerard, who just shrugs.

"So, I need to know where this bridge is," he says and turns the page to Ray. "Ever seen it?"

"I... I'm not sure, Gee. You drew this?" Gerard nods. "Have you checked the 'net?" Gerard shakes his head.

"Saw it in a dream last night."

"Do you have any idea when it was built?" Ray asks and gets his laptop from the living room.

"Not really? I mean, he built things," Gerard explains. "Worked as a mason and a whole shitload of other stuff. The closest date I have is sometime just after the Civil War, because that's when the mausoleum in Grandma's cemetery was built, where I found the bird."

"Okay, so just as a starting point, let's go with searching for bridges constructed in the late eighteen-sixties?" Ray suggests. Gerard nods and Ray starts typing.

Eventually they hit on the Transcontinental Railroad, and that just feels right to Gerard somehow. It gets easier from there. There are a lot of websites, and photos.

"Wow, I'm sort of scared how thorough these train enthusiasts are," Ray says.

"It's like Star Wars action figure collectors. Except... I don't even know," Gerard murmurs.

Ray looks up the railroads associated with the first railroad line all the way west. The Union Pacific Missouri River Bridge looks promising. "No, those pylons are all wrong," Grant points out.

Gerard grumbles, "He's right. Ugh. I promise I drew it the best I could."

Ray's still tapping. "Hm," he says.

Gerard leans in. "Hm what?"

"Hm, this article says that they had to rebuild that bridge, like, less than twenty years later. So if that picture is the rebuilt bridge...."

"Then Gerard might have drawn the original one," Grant finishes.

Ray's smiling. "I'm copying a bunch of these articles to print out for you, Gee," he says. "Do you think you'll go to Missouri?"

"We have to start somewhere," Gerard answers.

"Thought you started here," Mikey mumbles from the doorway, and Gerard goes over to hug him. Ray stands up and gets him a cup of coffee, and they go through all their findings again. "Sure you don't want us to come with you?" he asks once he's finished some of his coffee.

"I always want you to come with me," Gerard says. "But I also don't want you to get fired. I'm already unemployed."

"And I believe I could be considered to be retired," Grant murmurs. Gerard is startled into a laugh, and after a minute Mikey and Ray join him. "Breakfast, anyone?" he adds.

"He's awfully nice, for a demon," Mikey says to Gerard.

"I think that's how they get you. With the wiles, and stuff. You've read Good Omens," Gerard answers.

Grant just rolls his eyes and mumbles something that sounds suspiciously like, "So many royalties," and hands Gerard a plate.

 

***

 

Instead of being tired after work, Frank is restless and the last place he wants to go is home. So he grabs some takeout and hops on a bus. He ends up at Golden Gate Overlook. He sits on a cement barrier, eats his burrito, and looks at the bridge.

Working on that one had been a pleasure. He still thinks it's one of the most beautiful structures he's ever had a hand in. Steel had been a revelation to him after centuries of stone. He always liked working on bridges best anyway. They always felt like flying. And the Golden Gate was so very high over the water. He especially loved the mornings where he would climb up to the top and out of the fog to see a fluffy carpet of white over everything.

Frank smirks at himself. Predictable, angel. He still loves this city, but he's wondering if he should start to travel again. No sooner does he have the thought than he squashes it; he can't leave the key. Sighing, he crumples the burrito wrapper and pitches it in a nearby trash receptacle. Even thinking of the key makes him itch to walk by the mission.

Not that the wards he left will allow him to get close. But it's been a while since he's actually been over there. He goes back to the bus stop and heads into the city. He gets off long before he needs to and walks the rest of the way up the hill toward the Mission.

Mission Hill Park is crowded. Mission Dolores itself crouches next to the Basilica, looking small and unassuming. He's the only one in this entire city who knows what it actually holds. The mission, as with the city itself, is technically named after St. Francis - one reason Frank loves it so, and one reason he's so sad he can no longer enter the grounds. He'd love to light a candle for his old friend.

He finds a nice place to sit, and looks across at the mission. He misses everyone suddenly. At least with two of them, he can call. He fishes his phone out of his pocket and calls Kat. When she doesn't answer, he tries James.

"Hey kiddo," James says when he answers. "Sorry Kat didn't pick up, she's tattooing."

"No problem," Frank says. "You're at the shop too?"

"Yeah, she lets me hang around," James says easily. "One of these days she'll be bowled over by my stellar artistic talent and hire me. What's up?"

"Not much. Just. Bored. Walking around. Ended up at the mission," Frank explains. He knows James will know why he's actually calling.

"Why don't you come down for a visit?" James asks. Frank opens his mouth and then closes it again. There's no reason not to, but there's something telling him he needs to stay here more than ever.

"Nah, think I should stay. Just for right now. I miss you both, though."

"Kat says if you get your ass down here soon, she'll give you some new ink," James tells him. "If you think that'll do it."

Frank laughs. "I'll get down there soon, I promise. Got a job and everything to take care of. No last-second trips allowed."

"Soon, Frankie," James says. "We didn't track you down to this side of the world to never have you come see us."

"Track me, huh. I left a trail of breadcrumbs," Frank murmurs.

James laughs. "You did. Obvious as a blinking sign for those who know you."

Frank wonders if they'd be equally obvious after a hundred years, and for someone who only knows him from dreams. That's when it strikes him. He wants to see the priest again. He wonders how dangerous it would truly be to try to call him. "James, I should go," he says.

"Okay, brother. Call again soon."

"I will," Frank promises and hangs up. He walks back home, chats with one of his neighbors just getting home from work for a minute, and goes inside. Maybe he can try to just force a dream. He goes upstairs and sits down on the rug in his bedroom and closes his eyes. Kat's the expert at this, but he ought to be able to get himself into a meditative state if he tries.

He clears his mind and relaxes until his mind swirls and he's not in his own body anymore, not really. He's in the young priest's head. He's walking through Paris, and Frank is automatically on high alert, though he thinks he should probably enjoy it. He's walking aimlessly, taking in the sights and wishing half-heartedly for a sketch pad. Frank sees the church first, and if he were in his own body he'd flinch, because it's all-too-familiar.

He doesn't want to go in, he'd rather go almost anywhere else, but he can't stop it. St-Germain is beautiful, but all Frank can see are flames and death, battle both human and supernatural. And always, always Grant's face as he writhed in pain from a near-fatal blow meant for Frank. It had taken nearly all of Frank's not inconsiderable power to heal him.

Grant, Frank rages silently as the priest walks with halting steps through the basilica, It should've been me. You had no reason to.

The priest reels, stumbles into a niche. "I just want my dreams back," the priest begs. Frank feels nauseated and it's only partly to do with the knowledge that it's dreams of Frank, of his life, tormenting the man so much. It's the real reason he hasn't seen Grant for over two centuries. Because thinking of this moment makes him feel sick with guilt.

Frank sees his fingers reach out...yes. He had carved a mark here, he remembers now. Before it all went to hell. Literally.

He snaps out of the dream as quickly as he'd fallen into it and is dismayed to find he has tears running down his face. He swipes angrily at his cheeks. Fuck Grant and fuck this priest. But even as he thinks it, he knows he doesn't mean it. Find me, he begs. Please. Somehow.

 

***

 

They pull into Kansas City late. So late that they just stop at the first hotel they come across that doesn't look like a roach pit and fall into one of the beds. They make their way to the bridge the next morning.

Since it has been completely destroyed and rebuilt, they don't really expect to find a mark, but they go anyway. Afterwards they stop at a local historical society that the waitress at the barbecue joint tells them about. Apparently there is a railroad exhibit.

They go; it's quaint and interesting and they don't really see anything useful. Until one display with a picture of men who worked on the bridge.

"Frank," Grant breathes, reaching out to touch the plexiglass covering the picture, over a short man on the end. Gerard reads the names under it.

"Frank Grant," he reads. "He gave himself your name." Grant makes a wounded little noise. He can't help it. Gerard wraps his arms around Grant's waist and Grant clings to him like he's a lifeline. Perhaps he is.

"Where do we go from here?" Grant whispers.

"I don't know," Gerard replies. "Let's go get the car and find a nicer hotel for the night, okay? We can worry about it in the morning." He cups Grant's cheek and Grant's sure he feels a tingle between his skin and Gerard's fingertips.

Gerard drives them downtown and finds a nice place. Grant lets Gerard take care of things with the front desk while he just stands quietly by. When they get into their room, Gerard sets the coffee going and pulls Grant down with him onto the sofa and into his arms. He pulls out his phone and dials.

"Hey, Ray. Could you look up anything about a Frank Grant? See if there's any record of him working on any bridges or railroads or anything?"

"That might take me a while," Ray says. "Can I call you back?"

"Sure," Gerard says. When he hangs up he goes and gets them coffee and sits back down next to Grant. For the first time, Grant can see it - the caring soul that must have brought him to the priesthood in the first place. Gerard hands him his cup of coffee and leans against his side.

"Seventy years after St-Germain and he gives my name to people and still doesn't try to find me," Grant murmurs. And there it is. The thing that hurts the most.

"What about the key?" Gerard asks.

"Oh yes, the key. My good little soldier; they made him a keymaster and that was it, duty above all." He can't help sounding bitter.

"That's not being fair," Gerard tells him.

"Yes? Do tell, Gerard," Grant says. His snideness isn't fair either, but he can't seem to stop it.

"I know what he was thinking and feeling when you were hurt and he healed you. He felt so guilty. Completely unworthy of that kind of... of such a sacrifice. That's why his dreams have been so hard to bear. Because he's fighting guilt all the time and it was too much on top of my own."

"Unworthy?" Grant hisses. "That's so - so like him. I would have died a hundred times for him and deserved it every time."

Gerard shrugs. "He doesn't feel that way. You are more valuable to him."

Grant doesn't have an answer for that, except Why? so he says nothing. Gerard watches him for a moment then sets his coffee cup down with a clink and leans in, curling an insistent hand around the back of Grant's neck. Grant lets himself be pulled in and when Gerard's lips touch his, he blindly reaches to set his own cup down and pulls Gerard into his arms.

Gerard presses close, pulling Grant even closer with two handfuls of his shirt, opening his mouth for Grant, giving and giving and taking, too. He's not giving Grant time to think or talk. Not that he needs it. Wanting Gerard, touching him is one the few genuinely easy things about this entire endeavor. "Let's move to the bed," Gerard murmurs against his lips. The bed, yes.

"Let me have you," Grant replies, letting Gerard take his hands and tug him to his feet. "Please."

"Yes," Gerard moans. "Whatever you want." Grant reaches for his tie and tugs the knot and pulls it over his head while Gerard immediately reaches for the waistband of Grant's trousers. He can hear blood rushing in his ears, borrowed blood, human blood, and he's warm. Burning under his skin. He wrenches at the rest of his clothing before his hands return to Gerard, stripping him bare.

Gerard backs up to the mattress, a small smirk tugging at his lips. Grant runs his thumb over the quirk of Gerard's mouth. "And what has you so amused?"

"Demon," Gerard murmurs. "I see the fire now."

"It's always there. Lurking," Grant says and pushes Gerard down onto the bed. Gerard moves back and settles against the pillows. Grant crawls after and settles on top of him. Gerard lounges, that's the only word for it, watching Grant with that same tiny smile, and Grant pins him down all the same, covering him with bites and kisses, laughing whenever he draws a moan.

Gerard uses his hands to slide over Grant's shoulders, his sides, over his head. Gerard says he can finally see the fire in Grant, but each of Gerard's touches radiates something too. "My bag," Gerard says, tracing around Grant's ear while Grant licks at his nipple. "I brought lube. I want you to fuck me now."

Grant bites down lightly on his nipple and looks into Gerard's face. He didn't expect to find any, but it's reassuring to see no hesitation there. "Good." He kisses his way down Gerard's chest before rolling off him to get the lube. "I want that too."

"Side pocket," Gerard tells him and Grant finds it with minimum rummaging and turns back to stand at the foot of the bed. Gerard bites his lip and spreads his legs invitingly. He just might be the most inviting thing Grant has ever seen. Grant settles between his legs with kisses to the top of each thigh, each hip, then takes Gerard's cock in hand and sucks the head into his mouth. "Fuck," Gerard curses. "Please, I... it's been so long, if you keep that up I won't last."

"Duly noted. For later, perhaps," Grant murmurs, coating his fingers and reaching between Gerard's thighs. Gerard sucks in a breath. Grant leans down to nuzzle his inner thigh and slides his fingers over Gerard's entrance in a slow circle.

Grant leans his cheek against Gerard's thigh and presses two fingers inside him. Gerard's hips quiver and he lets out a moan. "Beautiful," Grant whispers and moves his fingers in and out of Gerard.

Until Gerard moans, "Please." Grant crooks his fingers, then, pressing gently. Gerard arches up.

"Yes," Grant whispers. "All the pleasure you want."

"Just want all of you," Gerard whispers. Grant kisses the top of his thigh again and adds a third finger. He thrusts with his fingers until Gerard is panting and gleaming with sweat, arching mindlessly and pushing into Grant's hand. "Now," he moans. "Now." Grant removes his fingers and slides up Gerard's body. Gerard wraps his arms around Grant's shoulders and kisses him. "Please fuck me," he begs when he pulls back.

"Yes," Grant whispers, pushing his legs up and apart, sinking in without hesitation. Gerard cries out, but it's clearly in pleasure. Grant presses his forehead against Gerard's chest and breathes hard.

He finally lifts his head and looks into Gerard's eyes. Transcendent, that's how he looks. Grant can feel it too. No ordinary fuck. There's something more between them. And yet, he has no patience to stop and reflect. All his senses are urging him to drive into Gerard. Farther, faster, harder. Gerard's hands and his desperate kisses tell him how welcome he is. Gerard wraps his legs around Grant's waist and meets every thrust with a roll of his hips.

"Gerard," Grant gasps.

"More, Grant, more," he demands. "Want all of you." Grant thrusts harder, faster.

"You have me," he murmurs and wraps his arms around Gerard and rolls them over so Gerard is riding him. Gerard gasps as he sits up, as Grant's hands tighten on his hips. He's so gorgeous like this, pale and soft and open. And nobody has seen him like this in years and years. He chose Grant to be the one. "Kiss me," Grant moans.

"Won't stop," Gerard tells him, leaning down, letting his hips roll. Grant realizes he's close to coming and reaches a hand between them to help things along. Gerard moans into his mouth and his hips stutter into Grant's hand until Grant gets a rhythm that goes with his thrusts. "You feel. Fuck, so good," Gerard groans. Then he leans to kiss Grant again, and neither can speak for the gasps and tangling tongues.

They kiss until Gerard moans against his mouth and he starts clenching around Grant and coming into his hand. It seems to last forever, Gerard surging against him and clenching around him, pulsing in his hand while Grant himself gasps, thrusts up hard and nearly without rhythm until he comes as well.

Gerard collapses against his chest and buries his face in Grant's neck. Grant wraps his arms around Gerard's spent body and holds him tight. "Grant," Gerard whispers.

"I'm here," Grant answers. Gerard nuzzles him and seems content to breathe against him. Grant suspects the little sniff he hears might be more than breathing, so he squeezes Gerard in his arms and kisses the side of his head. "Let's sleep," he says.

Gerard nods and whispers, "Okay."

Grant rolls him back over and gently pulls out. He kisses Gerard's mouth, his cheeks, his eyelids with their damp eyelashes and then gets up and wets a flannel in the bathroom. He cleans himself, cleans Gerard, then lowers himself back down, letting Gerard pillow his head on Grant's chest.

"Tears, beautiful one?"

"I... that was really... it was special and I... I keep trying to make the joke that you successfully fucked God out of me, but that's not..." he stops. "I don't know."

"It was special," Grant murmurs. "Because you're not denying a part of yourself. If I fucked anything out of you, it was that barricade."

"And for you?" Gerard asks. Grant strokes his hand up Gerard's arm and cups his cheek.

"My heart feels full for the first time in a very long time." Gerard smiles at him, but doesn't reply. Grant wonders if he's thinking about Frank. Grant can't deny that Frank is on his mind, but he doesn't say anything. He suspects, knows, that would break the spell. Instead he leans on to kiss Gerard slow and soft, savoring him. He can make sure they're lost in pleasure, not just lost.

 

***

 

Gerard is walking. Climbing, really. Through mist. Everything is muted and grey. He keeps moving up, each step careful, but sure. The air around him starts getting brighter and brighter and suddenly, he's out of the mist and there's orange and sunlight all around him. He keeps climbing and he suddenly realizes this is definitely not his dream.

This is... fuck, it's the Golden Gate Bridge and he's walking up toward the top of it. Jesus, Frank, Gerard thinks. It's strange to be up so high - literally in the clouds - and feeling no fear. Frank is happy, Gerard realizes. He's with a group of bridge workers, checking rivets and touching up that unmistakable orange paint, cheerfully barking encouragement and insults.

"Wanna go out with us tonight, Frankie?" one asks.

Frank laughs. "Guess I owe you a round after you helped me move."

"Damn right," someone else says.

Frank looks around. He's going to miss this job, and these men. But he's pushed the length of time he can feasibly stay as it is. The other day, someone joked about him finding the fountain of youth. I can leave this job, but I can't leave the key, he thinks. He's not sure what else he'll do since he can't leave the city. It's a small world in the kind of work he's been doing. Various jobs have a way of bringing people back together. There are people he's worked with on various projects scattered throughout the city.

Maybe it's time to change industries. Maybe it's time, too, to send a telegram to a couple addresses in Los Angeles. He steps onto the highest point and takes a moment to enjoy the view, enjoy the feel of the wind against his face.

Gerard startles awake, his blood rushing in his ears. "Gerard?" Grant mumbles. That's why he couldn't move - he fell asleep wrapped in Grant's arms; he's still there.

"He's in San Francisco," he gasps out. Grant lifts his head to look into Gerard's face.

"You're certain?"

Gerard nods. "He... that's where the key is and he said he couldn't leave it." Grant chuckles sleepily.

"I might have known. Francis."

"Guess we're going to California," Gerard says.

"Morning is soon enough," Grant tells him. Gerard nuzzles his chest.

"Yeah. Too soon, probably." Grant runs his hands up Gerard's shoulders and into his hair to massage his scalp. Gerard practically purrs. "That feels so good."

Grant keeps it up until Gerard feels sleepy again, until his eyes droop and he drifts back to sleep. When he wakes the second time, it's gradual. He becomes more and more aware of the arms around him, of the body against his. A body that shifts as soon as he does.

"You didn't sleep at all, did you?"

"I slept some," Grant murmurs. "Not much after your dream, but it was only two hours ago."

"I don't suppose you can magic up some coffee?" Gerard grumbles. He needs it. Grant laughs.

"My powers don't extend to conjuring, no. I can, however, get up and make you some coffee in the pot over there." Gerard grumps. He doesn't want to let go.

"Let go," Grant murmurs, with a string of kisses that seem to contradict what he's saying. Finally, Gerard releases him and he gets up. Gerard watches his gorgeous cock as he rounds the bed, the curve of his ass as he grabs the coffee pot and goes into the bathroom to fill it with water.

Ray calls while they're still brewing the coffee. "Found Frank Grant for you," he says. "Well, where he was at the turn of the century, anyway."

"And where is that?"

Somehow, he's not surprised when Ray says, "Saving people from the Great Fire of 1906 and getting his name in the paper. I mean. It's a common name. But -"

"No, it totally matches up with a dream I had tonight. He was doing maintenance on the Golden Gate. We think he settled in San Francisco. Thanks, Ray," Gerard says.

"No problem. Keep in touch, okay?" Ray replies.

"I will. Hey, put Mikey on the phone?"

"Hey," Mikey says. "What's up?"

"I just wanted to say hi," Gerard says.

"Hi," Mikey says. "So you're going to San Francisco."

"Guess so," Gerard says. "I'll call from the road, okay? And hey, give your boyfriend a kiss for me. He's pretty awesome."

Mikey laughs. "Okay. Good luck, Gee."

"Thanks, Mikes. Love you."

"Love you too."

Grant settles on the bed next to him, steaming cup of coffee in hand for both of them. "So," he says. "This is the American tradition of road tripping."

"I guess it is," Gerard laughs. "I'm a little old for it."

"You're old for it?" Grant chuckles. "Where does that leave me?"

"Immortality cancels out age considerations. So, are we going to do it the traditional way? Well, there are one of two traditional ways," Gerard corrects himself. "There's the way where we go at a normal pace and stop every night, or there's the way where we drive in shifts and only stop for a few hours at a time," Gerard says and sits up so he can drink his coffee.

"How long is it?" Grant asks.

"About thirty hours." Gerard sneaks a peek. "You want to drive in shifts, don't you?"

"I... yes. But I've waited over two hundred years. I think I can manage some delay if you'd prefer the slower option," Grant replies. Gerard sips his coffee.

"I like our little bubble," he admits. After what he and Grant have shared, he knows there is something between them, something strong, but he can't help but be nervous about what will happen when he's placed side by side with a fucking angel.

"San Francisco is a big city," Grant reminds him.

"Yeah," Gerard murmurs. He finishes his coffee and pulls Grant against him. "We can delay starting a little while?"

*

Gerard has only been asleep for four hours when his phone alarm starts going off. He moans. "Fuck."

"You can say that again," Grant says from the driver's seat. Gerard flips the seat back up.

"Pull over so we can switch?" he asks blearily and reaches for the half-empty can of Red Bull in the cup holder. He feels like he's been in a car forever. Warm, flat Red Bull is better than no Red Bull.

"We're ten miles from Salt Lake City. We can get some sustenance and switch there," Grant says. Gerard looks out the car window and... holy shit.

"Wow."

"Yes, it's very beautiful." Gerard watches the scenery go by until Grant finally pulls over. Gerard hops out, stretching until his back cracks. Grant circles the hood of the car and leans against the passenger door, studying a map. "Here," he says after a minute, tapping. "Reno. We can stop for a good night's sleep."

"That'd be good," Gerard murmurs and leans against Grant's side as he finishes off the Red Bull and opens another. "Can we go over the Golden Gate? I know it'd be a little out of the way, but I wanna see it."

Grant wraps an arm around his shoulders and kisses his temple. "Not enough out of the way that it would be much of a problem."

"Good," Gerard says, taking another swig of Red Bull, kissing Grant's cheek and heading for the driver's side door.

Gerard drives for about four hours, listening to music and trying not to think about what could happen when they reach their destination and find Frank. When he's blinking rapidly to stay awake, he pulls off the highway at a truck stop and gently shakes Grant awake. "Sorry," he says. "Time to switch."

"'S fine," Grant says. "You look done in."

"We're about halfway to Reno. I figured we could get some coffee and snacks here," Gerard replies. Grant nods and they head inside.

Gerard sleeps soundly for the next four-hour stretch, and when he wakes again he sees that Grant has found them a hotel. A nice one. He remembers the last nice hotel room and his heart thumps. He's both scared this is the last time they'll do this and elated that he gets the chance. He grabs the can of Red Bull he stashed away in the glove compartment and shotguns it before he gets out of the car.

He can't help giving Grant an expectant look as they ride the elevator, but as soon as they're inside their dim, cool room, Grant is coaxing him in a different direction. "I want to wash the road off, but I am unwilling to stop touching you now that I can," Grant explains and pulls Gerard's t-shirt over his head.

"Okay," Gerard breathes.

Grant turns on the shower and makes quick work of his own clothes while Gerard toes off his shoes and strips off his socks and pushes down his jeans and underwear. Grant backs them into the shower and Gerard can't deny that the hot water feels fucking good. Grant's skin feels even better. Soon he's backed up against the cool tile, with a very warm body pressed against him, surrounded by steam.

Grant's mouth covers every inch of his chest and neck and Gerard just holds on and breathes. Grant produces some shampoo from the little bottle and pushes his hands into Gerard's hair. He can't help but moan, it feels so fucking good. Who knew he liked having his head rubbed so much?

"I love the expression on your face right now," Grant murmurs. Gerard opens his eyes.

"I love what you're doing right now."

"I had gathered that," Grant replies and leans in to kiss him as he keeps his fingers going over Gerard's head. It's not the only place his fingers go. He insists on washing Gerard from head to toe, then kneels in front of him and takes him in his mouth.

Gerard moans and clutches at his shoulders. Grant's mouth is hot and smooth and Gerard can hardly stand how good it is. He can hardly stand, period, bracing himself as best he can while Grant sucks him, and Gerard comes embarrassingly fast.

Grant looks smug. Among other things; his mouth is red and swollen and Gerard can't help staring. "Wash me now?" Grant suggests. Gerard nods and grabs the soap and a washcloth and starts sliding it over Grant's body, touching every inch of him. He ends on his knees, running his hands and the soapy washcloth over Grant's ass and cock.

"Do you want my mouth too?" he asks.

"Yes," Grant says. "But I intend to end this evening in bed."

"Oh good, so we agree," Gerard grins and nips at Grant's wet thighs. He takes Grant's cock in hand and gives it a couple of good strokes before leaning in and taking it in his mouth. It's been a long time, but damn, it feels fucking good to have a cock in his mouth. Gerard alternates between lips, tongue, and suction, eyes closed. He can feel Grant's fingers find his hair again.

"So good," Grant murmurs. "So fucking good." Gerard cups Grant's balls in his hand and rubs them with his thumb. Grant moans, and Gerard keeps going until Grant tugs at his hair. "Bed, beautiful," Grant says.

Gerard gets up off his knees and instead of getting out of the shower, Grant tugs him close. His hard cock presses into Gerard's stomach. "You want me to fuck you again?" he whispers.

"Yesss," Gerard hisses. "So much."

Grant leans in to kiss him, then turns him around and gives him a gentle push out of the shower. Gerard gets out and grabs a towel, but Grant takes it from him and starts rubbing it over his hair and body. Gerard returns the favor and then backs him back into the bedroom. He just wants his hands on Grant as long as possible.

Grant closes his eyes while Gerard is touching his chest and there's a shift in the air and Gerard draws in a breath at the sight before him. Glittery black feathers catch the light from the lamps and Grant's wings fill half the room.

"Oh," he murmurs. It had never crossed his mind to ask, but of course this is what he wants. "Grant, oh. Can I -"

"You may," Grant replies. Gerard reaches out tentative fingers and smooths them up the line of Grant's wing from his shoulder.

"Ohhhh," Gerard whispers. Grant still has his eyes closed. "Can you feel that?" Gerard asks, trailing his fingertips down one of the long flight feathers. "You're... beautiful," he finishes.

Grant's wings wrap around him and Gerard gasps. Almost all the light from the room is blocked out, and all Gerard can see is Grant's face. "Yes," Grant whispers. "I can feel it when you touch them. They are a part of me, after all."

"I can't -" Gerard can't even speak, he's so overwhelmed.

Grant cups his cheek, smooths a thumb over the curve of it. "It's been a very long time since anyone's touched them. Or me."

Gerard reaches out to the sides and runs his finger down the feathers. "Turn around?" Gerard asks. "I can't reach them very well from here." Grant nods and with a whoosh, draws his wings back and turns. Gerard leans in to kiss the base of each wing. Grant's back is freckled lightly. Gerard is absurdly charmed by this, even as he is awed by the fall of dark feathers. He finally gives in and rubs his cheek against one of them, steadying himself with a hand on Grant's waist.

"Gerard," Grant whispers and Gerard rubs his face along the other wing. He lets his hands explore, sliding them over Grant's feathers one by one, tracing the outline with his fingertips. He's not sure how long he spends touching Grant, but Grant stands perfectly still the entire time, head down, breathing slow and steady and just... accepting the touches. Savoring them. Eventually Grant tugs at his wrist and they get on the bed, limbs tangled and lips and tongues working against each other. When Grant nudges him to turn over on his stomach, Gerard goes easily. Grant leans over for lube then gives him fingers right away, easing them between his cheeks and circling his hole. "Must I wait?" he whispers.

"No," Gerard breathes, rubbing his face on the pillow. "Please. Wanna feel you tomorrow."

Grant snags another pillow and tucks it under Gerard's hips, raising him up and spreading him wide and thrusting inside with no more hesitation. He's slick and hot and so, so hard. It's too much for about five seconds and Gerard hauls in a deep breath. Grant runs his hands up Gerard's back as he adjusts and then oh, fuck, it's so good.

Grant thrusts hard, and Gerard just presses his face into the pillow and moans. He's surrounded, filled, overwhelmed. Every nerve in his body is on fire. "Beautiful. So tight and needy," Grant murmurs and leans down to cover Gerard's back with his belly and chest, wings draping down over them both. "You are mine," Grant whispers. "Aren't you, Gerard?"

"Yes," he moans. "Yours." It was true from nearly their first moments together. At first because of Frank's feelings, but Gerard knows they're only part of it. That he would fall hard and fast for Grant with just his own emotions floating around in his head.

"Good," Grant murmurs. "Good." His voice is tight as he thrusts his hips faster, harder. His hands bite into Gerard's hips, but Gerard loves it.

"Grant," he gasps. "Wanna feel you come." Grant's thrusts get faster, harder and then he comes moaning Gerard's name. Gerard gasps as he feels it hot inside him. "Yes," he groans into his pillow. "So good, Grant, come here."

He feels the shift in the air again as the wings go back to wherever they came from, and Grant pulls out, drawing gasps from them both. Gerard rolls over, reaching for Grant. He's just himself again, curling around Gerard and seeking out his mouth. Gerard opens his mouth immediately. He wants more, so much more.

He's not sure how long they kiss either. He keeps his eyes closed, except when he's sneaking glances at Grant's dark eyes, his sharp cheekbones. Grant lets his hands wander after a while, over Gerard's shoulders and back, over his chest, fondling his nipples. And back up to trace over the lines of his face. "So beautiful," he says. "Human, flawed, yes. That only makes it more potent, Gerard. I think you are even more tempting than me."

Gerard laughs and nudges Grant onto his back and moves on top of him. Grant wraps his arms around Gerard and Gerard gives Grant's face the same treatment Grant gave his. "No, that's not true at all," Gerard declares and kisses the corner of Grant's eye. "Not true at all."

"Tempting," Grant repeats. "What am I to do with you?"

"Didn't you just...do something with me?" Gerard teases.

"I did. And I want to do many more things in varieties of ways," Grant replies.

There's not enough time, Gerard thinks sadly. Not anywhere near enough. Arriving in San Francisco tomorrow, it's only a matter of time before they find Frank. He knows it. And then... what? Grant is Frank's. Gerard has just been borrowing him for a while and he knows that. Has known it from the start.

"Gerard?" Grant asks softly. Gerard leans down and kisses him. Puts every bit of feeling he has bubbling inside him into it. Grant holds him tight and answers it. "Oh, Gerard," he whispers when they're catching their breath. "Sleep now, beautiful."

Gerard nods against his neck. He needs to sleep. The exhaustion is lurking at the edges and he needs it. But he doesn't want to. Perhaps if he stays awake, he won't have to give this up. "Once more," he mumbles. "Just your hand. Please."

"I would love to," Grant says. "Sit up." Gerard does as he's told and Grant sits up too. He wraps his hand around Gerard's cock and presses his forehead against Gerard's. "Yes," he says, stroking hard and fast, "that's my Gerard, always so ready for me. Your face, the noises you make... I want them, beautiful."

Gerard moans, thrusts into Grant's hand. "Fuck. Love your hands." Grant slides his thumb over the head of Gerard's cock and Gerard bites his lip hard. Grant leans in and kisses him, hand still stroking. His free hand wanders up and down Gerard's chest. It doesn't take long before Gerard's hips are snapping erratically into Grant's hand, until he's moaning into Grant's mouth.

He comes in Grant's hand and all over his belly. Gerard stares at the mess in fascination. "Messy, but the vices always are," Grant teases, getting up to fetch a washcloth.

He comes back and slides the cloth over Gerard and slides back in bed with him. He pulls the covers up over both of them and pulls Gerard against him. He doesn't tell Gerard to sleep this time, just kisses him, long and slow and sweet until Gerard's eyes drift shut.

When he wakes in the morning, he feels relatively well-rested for the first time in days. He still wants coffee first thing though. Well, first thing after he blows Grant.

He enjoys waking Grant with his mouth, enjoys watching him stretch and smile. He enjoys when Grant lets go of his control and fucks Gerard's mouth, enjoys when he comes and Gerard swallows it down even more.

There's coffee after that, and hasty repacking, and Gerard takes the first shift driving so that he can watch out the windows as Grant drives the last leg, into the city on the great bridge. They've been quiet for a while, and Grant's voice is rough when he asks, "Where to?"

"I don't know... anywhere? A library? Where do you think Frank might be?"

Grant laughs. "Hiding in plain sight, I'd guess." He hums for a moment. "Gerard, do you know why they named it San Francisco?"

"I was a Catholic priest until quite recently; of course I do," Gerard sasses.

"And you kept dreaming of Frank leaving his mark near things relating to the Mother, or to Francis. I'd bet he's somewhere near the mission," Grant replies.

They find a car park and walk up to the park. Gerard is looking around with interest, but Grant stops as they approach the mission and hisses, shaking his head.

"Grant?"

"I can't go any nearer. It's Frank's doing. It must be. If he's bothered with wards that strong I'd wager this is where he hid the key," Grant says. "I wonder..." he closes his eyes for a moment, clearly concentrating on something. "No, these wards will keep out anyone but mortals."

"So... should we wait here? Or walk around? I..." Gerard is suddenly very nervous.

"We should walk," Grant agrees. "Get some food, maybe find an internet cafe. Plus I've heard this is a beautiful city."

"Sounds like distraction to me," Gerard murmurs.

"And so it is. I believe the key is at the mission, and I believe that is where we will find Frank too. Eventually."

Gerard nods and they walk. They agree on a restaurant quickly. The food is good and their waiter is friendly, but it doesn't really distract Gerard that much. They get directions to a nearby internet cafe and Gerard gets some coffee and logs onto one of the computers. His specific search strings bring nothing, so he starts taking out quotation marks, but still nothing. He frowns at the screen.

He opens up his email instead and follows some of the links that Ray had sent him, but even the databases that had contained Frank Grant's information just... stop, after a while. "He must have changed his name," he tells Grant. That makes Grant frown and Gerard reaches out to squeeze his hand. "I don't know where to look now," Gerard says.

"If he changed his name, he probably also changed industries. If he continued working, anyway," Grant murmurs. "I've changed both of mine more than once."

"I bet things sort of sucked for you guys once there were like, Social Security numbers and stuff," Gerard says, draining his coffee.

"Those are the kinds of problems money can usually make disappear," Grant murmurs. "I'm sure we've done all we can. I just feel as if the mission itself is -"

"We can go back there? I don't know what else to do besides start knocking on doors," Gerard half-jokes. Grant nods and they hold hands all the way back to the mission.

"Let's sit in the park," Grant says. "It's a nice afternoon."

Gerard isn't used to having afternoons to sit in parks. Grant seems content to sit quietly and think, perhaps meditate, and Gerard, in his former life, would very likely sit and pray. On second thought, maybe that's what he should do anyway. He closes his eyes and feels the sun beat down.

After a while he shifts and pulls his phone out of his pocket. The mobile browser is difficult to deal with, but he runs some more searches anyway. He feels silly getting frustrated with something he knew probably wouldn't work, but he is anyway. He sighs a little and wishes he could curl up like a cat in the sun. But his car doesn't even have a blanket in it, so he just sits on the bench, kicking his feet restlessly. He texts Mikey a bunch and Mikey seems to find the idea of him waiting with a demon for an angel hilarious, which makes Gerard feel a little better about it all.

Finally Grant stirs and says, "What's got you laughing, beautiful?"

"Mikey. He says we're theatre of the absurd. Just waiting."

"We'll wait until the sun goes down," Grant promises.

Gerard laughs. "Until sundown. Okay." He leans forward and kisses Grant's cheek. "And then we should find some dinner and a hotel and we can regroup tomorrow. Maybe actually start knocking on doors. How hard can a heavily tattooed angel be to find?"

The park starts to clear out as the shadows grow longer, and Gerard starts studying individual people as they walk the paths, but no one seems to be paying any mind to the bald man in sunglasses and the messy-haired man in black sharing a bench. Until someone is.

The walker has a hood up, and is covered from head to foot, but Gerard suddenly knows. Feels it. He sucks in a breath and Grant immediately looks over at him, but Gerard can't look away. The hooded figure pushes down the hood and walks directly toward them. "Oh," Gerard whispers.

With the hood down it's unmistakably Frank, even though most of the tattoos are covered by medical scrubs and the hoodie. Even after all those dreams, Gerard has still only seen his face once - not that he was likely to forget it - and clearly it hadn't sunk in at the time how unspeakably beautiful Frank is. Not like an angel at all - like the hot punk kid in the pit of a crowded show, the one who you're not sure is gonna deck you or kiss you. Gerard sneaks a look at Grant, who's pulled his sunglasses off and is holding them loosely in one hand. He's staring at Frank, transfixed, and Gerard can tell that Frank is staring right back.

Two hundred years and change is a fucking long time, so Gerard stays quiet. And then Frank is right in front of them and taking Gerard's hand. "You needed my help. I'm sorry I was so useless. Is there anything I can do now?"

"You can tell me why I'm dreaming about you," Gerard answers. "That would be a good start."

Frank looks at him sadly, searching his face, and Gerard bites the inside of his lip so he won't squirm. He's wrong; how does everyone this man meets not know he's an angel? "You left the priesthood," he adds softly. "I'm sorry, I know it must have been...." He trails off, and Gerard can actually see him gathering himself to look up, and over. "Grant," he whispers.

Grant's fists are clenched at his sides as if relaxing them would mean he'd be unable to keep himself from touching Frank. "Frank," Grant replies. "Those are your wards, yes? And that's where the key is?"

"Yes," Frank replies. "I… it felt appropriate." Grant nods tightly. Frank turns back to Gerard. "I don't know why you've been dreaming about me. I've been dreaming about you, too. But maybe together we can figure it out?"

"I hope so," Gerard says. He feels tense, itchy all of a sudden, all the words the other two aren't saying pressing in on him from all sides.

Frank looks between the two of them again. "I think you'd better come home with me."

"We can - a hotel -" Gerard doesn't quite know what he's trying to say. It's hard to feel like you're imposing on someone you're already dreaming about every night.

"No," Frank says. "My place is safest." He says it matter-of-factly, but Gerard shivers. What does he mean, safest?

"The car is parked in a lot about half a mile from here," Grant says.

"I don't have a car, so there's a spot at my house you can park it in," Frank replies. "I'll walk with you."

"You did help me. In a way," Gerard says as they walk toward his car. "Your birds. I… they helped. Even if they're what brought the dreams, it gave me something to focus on. A purpose."

"We all have a purpose," Frank says. "Even if it's not the one we start out with." Gerard catches him flicking another glance at Grant, who's walking a few steps in front of them, leading the way to the car. He hasn't asked anything yet, not how they met or what Grant is doing here, and Gerard supposes if you're immortal, you have to learn patience, but Jesus.

"My - um, this is weird, but... my name is Gerard," he says. "Gerard Way."

"Frank. Um. I've had a fuckload of last names, but currently it's Iero," Frank says and reaches out to shake Gerard's hand. This time he notices the tingle when their skin touches.

"Why Iero?" Grant asks. Gerard's surprised he doesn't ask about Frank taking his name for his surname.

"It's the name of some people who were very kind to me when I lived in New Jersey. That's been my cover for the last few years. Jersey Italian who wasn't making a go of anything back east, so he decided to see what the west had to offer," Frank explains.

"People probably think you're in the witness protection program," Gerard murmurs, and Frank laughs - an unfairly adorable scratchy giggle.

"There's some truth in that," he says when he catches his breath.

"You weren't being particularly subtle with Frank Grant," Grant says.

"Yeah well, it was a lot harder to track me down back when I had that name," Frank says. "Gave that one up when records and communication started getting more centralized and easier to find."

If the two of them get any more carefully casual, Gerard is going to scream. Luckily they reach the car and Gerard can busy himself with driving them to Frank's house instead.

Frank directs him to pull into a little garage under a townhouse with brightly painted Victorian-style trim and accents. Gerard loves it immediately. "How long have you lived here?"

"A long time," Frank replies. "Probably too long. But most of the houses around here are rentals or split into apartments and hardly anybody stays long."

The house is nice inside, too, with a mishmash of antique furniture and just enough clutter. Frank kicks off his sneakers at the door, so Gerard and Grant follow suit. "It's safe enough, don't worry," Frank murmurs to Grant as he pulls off his hoodie. "Guess you're lucky I keyed the house wards to you already, just in case."

In case Grant ever found him, Gerard guesses. "Do you work at a hospital?" Gerard asks when Grant doesn't reply. Frank looks down at his scrubs.

"Free clinic nearby. I need to go upstairs and change, then we can talk. Let me - you can bring your bags upstairs and I'll open up a couple of bedrooms -"

"Just the one will do, Frank," Grant says. "We've managed just fine with one for nearly two weeks."

"One, then," is all Frank says and leads them upstairs. "Bathroom here," he points. "And you can have this bedroom. Might want to open a window, it hasn't been used in a couple of months." Frank continues to his own bedroom and Gerard sets his bag on the bed. This bedroom is cozy. There are a few things on the dresser that make him think a specific person stays in it more often than anyone else. He looks at Grant.

"Was there any particular reason for that?" Gerard asks.

"It's just the truth, Gerard," Grant replies. "Does it bother you?"

"I… it." He sighs and starts unpacking his bag, if only so he has somewhere else to look, something to do with his hands. "It bothers me if you're only doing it to spite him somehow."

"We hurt each other by nature," Grant says noncommittally.

"That doesn't mean you have to do it on purpose," Gerard frowns. "I just can't understand...wait. Are you jealous, Grant?" Grant's silence tells him all he needs to know. "Listen, I'm not the one in this room who's been in love with him for centuries."

"You can touch him," Grant whispers.

Gerard reaches out with his hand - his right hand, the one Frank had clasped - to touch Grant's cheek. "And I can touch you, too. What am I supposed to do about that?" he asks. Grant closes his eyes for a moment, then turns back to his bag.

"You'd better go talk to him."

"You're not coming?" Gerard asks.

"I need a few minutes," Grant says.

"Okay," Gerard murmurs. He wants to say more, but he's not sure he's really qualified to do that, so he goes out into the hall, pulling the door closed behind him just as Frank comes down the stairs from the third floor. He's in a worn cardigan and jeans and and what appears to be a positively ancient Black Flag t-shirt. "You bought that brand new in the eighties, didn't you?" Gerard asks with a little smile.

"Fuck yeah I did," Frank says.

Gerard laughs, only a little sarcastically. "If I'd known angels listened to Black Flag, I'd have been a lot more sure about my career path earlier in life."

Frank steals a look at the closed door behind him. "He's not coming down?"

"Not... right now," Gerard says, biting his lip. Frank sighs and starts down the stairs.

"Coffee?" he asks when he hits the landing.

"Please," Gerard answers fervently.

 

***

 

Frank is glad he can make coffee. It's a soothing task to do while Gerard stands behind him and looks around his kitchen curiously. "Is this Katherine? And James?" he asks. Frank glances over to where Gerard is standing in front of the fridge.

"Kat," Frank corrects absently. "Yeah, that's them. You've - I mean - I don't know where to start with you, Gerard. I don't know what you know."

"Likewise," Gerard says, nudging the picture back in line with the one next to it. "I've seen a lot, I think? A lot of the major things, anyway. I saw what happened in St-Germain. And everything with the keys. And a lot with Grant. The most recent thing I saw was you climbing up the Golden Gate and thinking you'd need to leave the job soon," Gerard explains.

Frank smiles at the French press. "The bridge jobs were always my favorites," he says. "There's not room for a lot of bullshit among a group of guys who make their living climbing fucking bridges."

"Must be nice," Gerard mumbles.

"There's not room for a bunch of bullshit with someone who is dreaming about your life, either," Frank adds ruefully. "How'd you meet him?"

"I finally figured out that there was something going on involving the gates," Gerard says. "So I started looking up information about them and the results that looked most promising were books held in a private collection in Scotland. A librarian in Glasgow told me the owner would be happy to let me come look at them. So I went, and there he was."

So it was Scotland. The accent suits him, too. "That's pretty industrious," Frank says, handing Gerard a coffee mug. "Course, you had my memories, that's sort of like a head start. And once you'd met Grant...." Frank watches the expression that runs across Gerard's face. Isn't it just like his demon to seduce a priest? The man's in love with him, Frank thinks. At least a little.

"He helped fill in the blanks," Gerard answers finally. "But I had to find you. And he -"

"I'm sure he was more than happy to help." But Frank can't quite help the bitter tone. Two hundred years, and it's a pretty little mortal who brings Grant back to his door.

"The thing is," Gerard says. "I dreamed your dreams and felt the things you were feeling. And I was a fucking lonely ex-priest who hadn't been touched in a long time. And he told me right out that he felt you in me, in even just a handshake. So don't think this is… that." He trails off and runs a frustrated hand over his face. Frank immediately feels bad for the tone.

"I'm sorry," Frank says, clutching his own coffee mug to his chest and breathing in the steam. "I have no right to take out my own frustrations on you. I'm glad you're here," he says fiercely, cupping a hand over Gerard's forearm and squeezing. "I think it means something, that you're here, and that he's here as well. I've been worried, but now that you're here...."

"You should tell him about the sealing," Grant interrupts quietly, coming into the kitchen.

"Okay," Frank replies. "Do you want coffee?" He hopes Grant takes the question as the peace offering it is.

"Yes, I'd love some," Grant replies evenly. Frank smiles at him and turns to pour him a cup.

"Black, still? Or have you changed your ways?"

"Black," Grant replies. His voice sounds fond now and Frank can't help but take a deep breath. This is better.

"Black, always black, I should have known," he says, which makes Grant laugh, as he intended. It's distracting, having Grant in the kitchen with him, feeling the wisps of his power he can't quite contain. God, he'd had a shock that afternoon at work when he'd felt someone brush up against the wards at the mission. He'd spent the rest of the day in a daze, mopping floors and needing everything repeated to him twice.

It happened, periodically. Always someone just traveling through and curious. They always moved on when they realized the power behind the wards. But it made Frank nervous every time. And this time, he knew he just might be getting welcome visitors. So he'd run, as soon as he clocked out, over to the mission. And he'd found exactly what he'd been hoping most to see.

"You have your powers back," he says to Grant, not quite a misdirection. He's still thinking about how best to explain the seal to a mortal.

"Not all of them," Grant replies. "I have been... reluctant to draw attention to myself by using them."

"We're the only ones," Frank tells him. "I had a visitor recently who confirmed that for me."

"It has to do with the earthquake, I'm sure." It makes Frank's heart clench a bit that Grant knew about the earthquake too, that he'd looked into it. "Maybe other angels have gotten a measure of power back before," Grant says, "But I'd wager I'm the only demon with a strong enough tie to an angel to benefit."

Gerard doesn't look confused. He'd told Frank he knew all about Grant. He... apparently wasn't exaggerating. "And Vincent and Cameron?" Frank asks.

"They have enough connection to me," Grant replies. Frank nods.

"Kat and James, too."

"The Gate itself is stable," Grant says. "I checked it myself." Frank is filled with relief.

"Thank you," he breathes. "I didn't... I was fairly certain that was the case, but it's good to know."

"So... Gates? And the sealing thereof?" Gerard asks. Frank smiles.

"Let's go into the living room and sit down. It's a long story." There's a bit of confusion as Frank steps up to the kitchen doorway and Grant doesn't move away quite as fast as Frank was expecting. But it's just another moment out of thousands where they're too close for comfort, and Frank's managed to put it mostly out of his mind by the time they arrange themselves on chairs and sofas in his living room.

"The Gates have always been, and angels were tasked with protecting them and have been on earth since the earliest times. Demons roamed the earth too, doing what they would, but they weren't bold enough to assault the Gates. Or else we assumed they couldn't find where we'd hidden them. The first major assault resulted in the keys, and each Gate acquired a keymaster and two sentries to protect it."

"And when did you meet during all this?" Gerard asks.

"Ten-sixty-six," Frank answers immediately. "He was causing mischief with the Normans." Grant grins at him, full and genuinely happy for the first time in something like two hundred and fifty years and Frank's stomach swoops and he grins back. I love you, he thinks.

"You have that backwards," Grant tells him. "They invaded my island!"

"How could I forget," Frank says drily. "You were ready to be taken down a peg."

"And you were just the one to do it... Except you ran back to Italy. I had to come find you, the next time."

"Like you minded," Frank murmurs.

"I think Vince and Cameron would tell you I was rather insufferable with the amount I didn't actually mind," Grant admits. Frank smiles at him again and forces himself to look at Gerard.

"We chased each other around the world like that until the French Revolution. A lot of the angels were preoccupied with what was happening in France and that's when the demons tried to assault the Gates the second time. Grant..." Frank has to stop and clear his throat. "He warned me. He nearly lost his life doing it."

"Why?" Gerard asks Grant. "You've never said why. Why you helped them. Why you - I mean - angels, demons...."

"What they never tell you is that some of us didn't Fall because we agreed with everything Lucifer spouted. In fact, I thought he was a bit of a blowhard. I just wanted the freedom to choose my own path," Grant says.

"I... if I'd been a little less green, I'd probably have chosen the same," Frank says quietly. That's not something he's ever admitted before. Grant raises an eyebrow at him. "I didn't... I was terrified. Of everything. And the.... I was given a task and it was important enough that I couldn't... I had to stay."

"Explain the sealing?" Gerard asks. Frank sighs.

"It was... I had moved the Gate to Assisi. It was a good place. It seemed safe enough. But the demons were just biding their time. They wanted the keys. So we gathered together as many as we needed to perform a sealing sigil. The Gates - all of them - would stay closed until every active key was returned to its gate. It was... not unanimous. Because it meant we'd all lose our powers, angels and demons alike. Sealed on this plane. And Grant, who'd come to warn us, was injured when some of his brethren followed and attacked with the last of their residual magic. That was St-Germain." Gerard nods. He clearly knows how that ended.

"And then you scattered?"

"Everyone went their own direction. I drifted. For a long, long time. I... I made so many mistakes and it was..." Frank trails off and looks away. He can't look at Grant, can't look at Gerard who knows. He feels the air shift and when he looks back, Grant is kneeling in front of him, inches away, clearly holding himself back from touching.

"I thought about you every day. I know it was for the best, I know it can't change and I can leave again now, but. I had to see you."

Frank shakes his head vigorously. "Don't. Please, don't. Not yet." He bites his lip, but that doesn't stop the tears from falling.

"Gerard, please," Grant murmurs. "Touch him for me." Gerard's head jerks up like a startled deer.

"Me?"

"Hold him," Grant begs. Frank has rarely heard him brought so low. He thinks for a second that Gerard will refuse, but he stands up, touching Grant's shoulder before laying a palm against Frank's cheek. He wipes Frank's tears away and pulls him close. Grant rests a hand on Gerard's knee and stares at Frank. Frank stares back until he can't take it another second and turns his face into the soft fabric of Gerard's t-shirt.

Gerard smells like sun and cigarette smoke and exhaust, and he strokes his fingers gently through Frank's hair, leaving little staticky trails in their wake. Frank listens to his heart beat and watches Grant's thumb smooth back and forth against the denim covering Gerard's knee. It's like he can feel it himself, and it makes him hold his breath, waiting for pain which doesn't come, so he's just letting his imagination run away with him. It's both horrible and wonderful that this is the closest he's gotten to an embrace from Grant in a thousand years. He doesn't have to look at Grant to know he feels the same.

Finally, he pulls away, even though Gerard's arms feel good and he'd rather not. "I'm being a terrible host. Are you hungry? I can make food, or we can call for takeout? That'd probably be faster."

"Whatever you like," Grant says, standing and going back to his chair. He's composed again, like he'd never shown a crack.

"I'd like to cook for you," Frank says. "I've had a lot of practice. Got pretty good at it."

"That sounds nice," Gerard says and squeezes his arm. Frank takes a deep breath. He's never been as good at the facade as Grant.

He's sad when Gerard lets go. Something about the mortal's touch...well. Frank won't think about it. He goes into the kitchen and starts putting together cheese enchiladas.

"I don't eat meat," Frank says to Gerard. "I hope that's okay."

"That's fine," Gerard replies with a smile. "Used to it from staying with him for a few days."

Frank beams at Grant, who smiles wryly. "Yes, your pet saint made a bit of an impression."

Gerard hops up into one of the barstools and kicks his feet. "More coffee?" Frank asks him.

"Please," Gerard replies and Frank sets his electric kettle heating again.

"So how did you find me, anyway?" he asks.

"Kept having dreams about trains and bridges," Gerard says. "Also, a friend who's good with computers. And probably a lot of dumb luck."

"You sure it was luck?" Frank asked. Gerard shrugs.

"I'm not a priest anymore because I stopped believing that God was an active presence in my life and I still don't feel like he is, despite being in the same room as an angel and a demon."

"We're all stuck on this plane together," Grant says. "I must say, I prefer it to my alternative."

"Me too. It means I got to meet you both," Gerard says.

"I... it's hard for me to admit, but I have very much felt the same at times, Gerard," Frank says as he pours some of his homemade enchilada sauce over the pan. "If this was His plan, I haven't been giving Him enough credit. And if it wasn't, well. I agree with both of you."

"You don't want to go home, Frank?" Grant asks.

"I am home," he replies. If he could only keep Grant here, it would be true. He hears Grant breathe in sharply.

"It is entirely unfair that I can't kiss you."

"And it would be unfair if you did," Frank replies, with a look at Gerard, who's doing a pretty good job of pretending to be deaf.

"Frank, it's fine," Gerard murmurs. "You forget, I know exactly where I stand here."

Frank looks at Grant steadily. "I really don't think you do."

"I... don't?"

"You both feel more than you're letting on," Frank says. "And Grant knows it."

"Frank," Grant sighs. "You can't fix everything."

"You could be happy together," Frank says. "That's not something to fix, that's something to celebrate."

"For how long?" Grant asks.

"If it's thirty years, it's thirty more than many have," Frank says, leveling a finger at Grant.

"Frank," Grant says quietly. "What makes you think I could ever be truly happy without you?"

Nothing makes him think that. He never would think that, because he knows the same about himself. He sighs and puts the pan of enchiladas in the oven. "Some days, I wish we'd never met. Maybe it would be easier. And then I have to go throw up."

Grant doesn't say a word. Frank knows he's probably had the same thought. It's Gerard who says, "Frank!" in a tone of pained reproach. And Frank lets him, because Frank knows Gerard's been inside his head.

He washes his hands and pulls out some veggies to make a salad. "I love him too much to ever feel that way for long, Gerard."

Gerard lets it go, though Frank's pretty sure he doesn't forget it. "Explain something to me," he says. "You keep saying you have wards on the key, and on this place. How did you do that without powers?"

Frank smiles. That is an easy and welcome, if not particularly subtle, subject change. "Anyone can do a sigil. You could, if you knew how. They're fucking powerful by themselves, but I don't think it's enough if there were a concerted effort against us. Even if we do have some of our powers back."

"Are you expecting a concerted effort?" Gerard says, frowning.

"Yes," Grant says. "Sooner or later. Our brethren can sense the power, even if they can't use it. I knew this and I came here anyway."

"And since both of us are here, it's like a fucking beacon," Frank says and then rushes to add. "Which doesn't mean I want you to go."

"I won't," Grant assures him. "I - at the very least, I'd like to try to help Gerard."

"I think it will help, being here," Gerard says quietly. "I feel... calmer being near Frank. At least when I dream about the sad things I'll know when I wake up that he's here, that he's fine."

Frank smiles at him and reaches out to squeeze his shoulder. He feels a slight buzz, a tickle under his fingertips. "I am here and I am fine. And we'll keep each other safe."

When dinner is ready, Frank sets places around his worn kitchen table and they eat, keeping conversation light. The occasional story turns serious, but Frank learns more about Gerard's life, about his family, and whenever Frank can get away with it he just stares unapologetically at Grant while he speaks. He catches Grant doing the same, so he doesn't feel even a tiny bit guilty about it. Gerard, though. He's funny and caring and Frank really fucking wants to meet his brother and his boyfriend now. Frank can see why Grant's so infatuated with him. Frank's pretty sure he's halfway there himself.

They finish their food and Grant insists on cleaning up. Frank lets him and makes more coffee for them all. Gerard's eyes go bright when Frank sets a fresh cup in front of him. "Is there somewhere I can smoke?" Gerard asks when he finishes fixing his coffee.

"Backyard," Frank says, gesturing at the back door. "No, wait, I'll come with you." He pats his pockets to make sure he has his cigarettes and opens the door for Gerard.

They both light up and Gerard rests his elbows on the rails of the porch. "So it's really weird to know someone, but not really know them," Gerard says. "Like, I know all these intimate and important details of your life, but I don't know your favorite band. I mean, I'm assuming Black Flag is on the list somewhere."

Frank laughs and takes another drag on his cigarette. "That's a hard question when you've been around as long as I have. I like Beethoven and the Beatles and Miles Davis and the Misfits and - well, you get the picture. We all live for music, in one way or another," he says; he means not just himself, or James or Kat, but the rest of his siblings too, and he thinks Gerard knows that.

"I like a lot of stuff too. Morrissey. Definitely The Misfits. And Springsteen, of course."

"Of course," Frank says with a grin. "Jersey boy."

Gerard grins back. "And there's this band called Sleigh Bells that I've been into lately."

Frank smiles. "Basically anyone who's willing to DIY. I like to see that shit, you know." He takes a couple more drags off his cigarette and crushes it out. "Trying to quit. Never quite succeeding."

"How did an angel even start smoking?" Gerard asks.

"I worked with a lot of rough guys and… it just made sense to smoke and drink with them, you know? Otherwise I'd have been sitting in bunkhouses and tents by myself a lot," Frank replies.

"So, not a temperance crusader or anything, then?" Gerard asks. Frank leans back against the porch rail and looks at Gerard.

"History demonstrated how well crusades usually turn out, I think. I think it's a lot more effective to just - be good, do good, and encourage other people to do good, than to say no, don't, wrong."

"I think you're right. Another thing I hated about being a priest. Having to absolve people for things I didn't think were sins," Gerard murmurs and blows a stream of smoke up into the air. "I really wasn't as well-suited for that job as I thought I was. Of course, I'm smoking with an angel, so I guess I haven't totally escaped it."

"And the demon is up to his elbows in suds," Frank says, peeking through the kitchen window. "Sometimes you just have to let things be different than you thought they'd be."

Gerard smiles. "Yeah. I do this thing where I make all these plans and I'm sure I know how things are going to go because I planned it all out, right? Sometimes it's hard to let go of my expectations and just let shit be. But I'm getting a little better about it."

When Frank and Gerard go back inside, Grant is hanging up a dish towel. "I think I'd like to turn in," he says. "We can talk more tomorrow, after some rest."

Frank nods. "I'll get you towels and things. I don't remember if I set everything back properly the last time Kat was in that room. If you need to do laundry or anything, feel free. Machine is in the basement."

When he's got his guests settled, Frank goes up to the third floor and undresses. He's surprised when he crawls into bed how exhausted he actually is, but it's been... an emotional day. He falls asleep fast and hard.

He doesn't know how much later it is, probably not much, when he opens his eyes to see Grant's face looking down at him, a hand brushing lightly over his chest. Don't, Frank thinks, but there's no pain and he realizes this is Gerard, he is Gerard and - he moans as Grant's mouth moves delicately along his jawbone, as his hips shift to cradle Grant's.

Frank moans and Gerard turns his head to give Grant's mouth better access to his neck and he realizes. This isn't a dream. That's the nightstand in Frank's guest room he's seeing. Frank starts awake, but he can still feel the ghost of lips on his jaw, the slide of Grant's body against his. "Fuck," he chokes out and stumbles out of bed and downstairs. He can't let them keep going. It's too... he can't.

Grant answers his knock. He can see Gerard over his shoulder, wearing an unzipped hoodie. Grant hasn't even bothered with a shirt, and Frank refuses to look down. "You have to stop," he stammers. "I'm sorry, so sorry, but I'm - you're - Gerard - I can't guarantee I can stay awake and that's not much better anyway and -"

Grant raises an eyebrow. "Frank, slow down. What are you talking about?"

"I can see you. In my dreams. And I can feel it too, a little. I don't want to... it's too... I can't..." he rubs his hands through his hair. "Please stop."

Gerard gets out of bed and slips past Grant. "It's not just memories anymore?" Frank shakes his head.

"And it's so much stronger when you're close by. Like... feedback." Grant sets a hand on the back of Gerard's neck, and Frank's prickles. He sucks in a breath and his shoulders go up around his ears and Grant slides his hand down Gerard's back. Frank shudders. "Please," Frank begs.

"Are you asking me to stop, or asking me to continue?" Grant asks.

"I--"

"Frank," Gerard whispers and reaches out to touch his arm. "Frank, come in with us... let us?"

"I can't do that!" Frank blurts, pulling back, but Gerard doesn't let go.

"Why?" Gerard asks. "You can feel it when he touches me, right? And... I could touch you too. I could do this for you. Let me?"

"You don't even -" Know me, he means to say, but that's not true. "You don't want me. It wouldn't be -"

"Who says?" Gerard asks. "You're fucking hot, you're nice, and touching you makes me feel good."

Frank can't really argue with that. "I... You are too," he murmurs. And looks at Grant.

"I want to touch you whatever way I can," he says simply. "And I can think of little better than the idea of being with both of you."

"It can't be that easy," Frank protests weakly. He doesn't know why he's even bothering. He hasn't moved.

"Frank, please," Grant whispers.

"Okay," he agrees; Gerard pulls him close and Frank wraps his arms around Gerard's waist. He feels the ghost of Grant's touches over his shoulders, up his neck and up to his scalp. Gerard moans then, and Frank leans forward to kiss him, laying a tentative hand on his chest. Frank gasps at the ghost of Grant's lips on the back of Gerard's neck.

"Take his clothes off, Gerard," Grant murmurs. "I want a chance to look at him this time."

Gerard's hands are cool when they skim up under his t-shirt. "You can say no if this is too - mmpf," he ends, as Frank grabs him by the back of the head and kisses him as soon as his t-shirt is off. Grant's hands slide down Gerard's sides and palm his ass. Frank gasps into Gerard's mouth. Gerard's hands go for his sweats and he shucks them down on the floor. He gives Frank one last kiss and steps back. "So he can see," Gerard says.

Frank can see too. Grant is naked. Whipcord thin with a tiny, soft belly. Scarred and hard. And Frank can see, in his mind's eye, Grant's true form, pale and slim and framed by dark wings, and he loves them both.

"I'm going to have Gerard touch each of those tattoos," Grant says. Frank shivers. "I want you to tell me about them. It doesn't have to be now, but sometime. Fuck, Frank. You're so." Grant takes a deep breath.

"I'm going to have Gerard kiss that scar for me," Frank says, pointing at Grant's belly. "I'm sorry I couldn't fix it all the way."

"I was undeserving," Grant says in a whisper.

"You are not," Frank tells him. "Never, never." His impulsive step forward is checked by Gerard, and he busies himself with the hoodie and with Gerard's briefs. "I wish this worked in reverse," he murmurs, "but you are - gorgeous, Gerard." Gerard smiles and kisses him, pulls their hips together. It's been a long time and Frank moans at the feel of another hard cock against his. "How should this go?" Frank asks hesitantly.

"I think Grant should get me off with his hands. Touch me everywhere," Gerard says as if he's been thinking about it. "And then I get to touch you. And then I want to blow you."

"I'll sit," Frank says. "And wait." And watch. There's a wing chair near the bed; he backs up blindly and sits. Grant gets his hands on Gerard again and Frank gasps. "Fuck, that's amazing."

Grant looks over at him and smiles. He turns Gerard around and pushes him down onto the bed. Gerard goes easily, pulling Grant down with him. Grant's hands roam all over Gerard's torso and Frank has a hard time breathing. When Grant's mouth closes around one of Gerard's nipples, Frank's hands clench on his thighs. He wants to touch himself, but he's afraid if he does, he'll be done long before he gets Gerard's mouth. The echoes of Grant's touches are almost enough as it is.

Gerard clasps Grant's shoulders and rolls them over, and that's worse - better - because now it's Grant propped up against the pillows and they can look at each other. He stares at Grant's hands tracing up and down Gerard's spine and shivers repeatedly.

Then one of his hands disappears and Frank knows by the way Gerard's back arches, by the way his own hips stutter, that Grant has taken Gerard in hand and started stroking. "Grant," Frank moans in unison with Gerard.

"Yes, beautiful," Grant murmurs, maybe it's a question or maybe not, but Frank doesn't know what he would say. Except - "Tell me what to do next, Frank," Grant adds.

"I don't… just keep touching him," Frank says. It's Gerard who grabs Grant's free hand and laces their fingers together. And yes. That's what he wanted. He wishes he could actually hold Grant's hand, but this will do.

He frowns; he's not close enough, but he doesn't dare get on the bed. He gets up and sinks to his knees at the edge of the mattress instead, and that's better; he can see, now, how Grant has long fingers wrapped around them both, how his hand is moving, how Gerard's arm muscles shift to brace him as he leans forward for a kiss.

The way their mouths move against each other is gorgeous. Frank reaches out, because he can't help it, and touches Gerard's thigh. Gerard moans against Grant's mouth. Grant speeds up his strokes on Gerard's cock, giving him a little twist and the slide of his thumb over the head on each stroke.

When Gerard lets go of his hand, Grant presses his palm against the center of Gerard's chest, then up to Gerard's throat and around the back of his neck to tangle in his hair. Frank feels it all and whimpers helplessly. He is so hard it hurts and he doesn't dare touch himself. "Please," he begs.

"Soon," Gerard promises breathlessly, moving his hips faster even as Grant jacks them both.

Gerard thrusts hard into Grant's hand and leans down to rest his forehead against Grant's. Frank bites his lip and watches as his thrusts start to stutter and he comes hard all over Grant's belly. Frank wants to lean down and lick it up. Gerard flashes a glance at him and runs his hand through it, then wraps his hand around Grant and starts jerking him off again. Grant clenches his fingers in the sheets and tips his head back. Gerard nuzzles his throat and kisses his collarbones. Grant moans. "Fuck," he gasps.

He's so beautiful in his pleasure, so completely undone. Frank is too. "Grant," Frank whispers, and he turns his head to look at Frank.

"Yes, love?" Grant rasps.

"Don't wait. I want to see your face." Grant's knuckles go white with how tight he's gripping the sheets and Gerard keeps stroking until Grant bucks his hips and swears and comes in Gerard's hand.

"Beautiful," Frank murmurs. "Both of you. So beautiful."

"Your turn," Gerard says. "Wanna taste you."

"So do I," Grant breathes, and Frank whimpers.

Gerard laughs. "Be patient." He slides off the bed and pulls Frank in for a kiss. Frank wraps Gerard in his arms and holds tight. They kiss for a long time, until Frank's hips are moving against Gerard's. "Okay, yeah. Your turn. Get back in the chair?"

"Okay." Frank scrambles to sit, gasps when Gerard's hands are sliding up his thighs before he even stops moving. "Fuck." His hips jerk as Gerard wraps a hand around him, and Gerard smirks at him and flattens a hand over his hip and -

"Jesus, Frank, these tattoos."

Frank laughs. "They're… I tend to be a fuckin' packrat and until more recently, I couldn't really keep anything for long. So I got tattoos. They're my scrapbooks."

"No, these," Gerard says, smoothing a thumb over one of the birds bracketing his hips. "These are -"

"Oh," Frank breathes. "Yeah."

"They're the birds," Gerard whispers. "The ones… fuck." He leans forward and kisses each one gently, traces the lines with his fingertip. Frank sucks in a breath.

"Told you they were part of your soul," Grant says from the bed. "You set a seal in your own flesh, and all over the world your little birds...."

"They brought Gerard to me," Frank answers softly, running a hand through Gerard's hair.

"They bound him to you," Grant answers. "You seem to have a skill for that."

"Right now I think I regret... none of it," Frank answers, gasping as Gerard chooses that moment to take the head of Frank's cock in his mouth.

"I am profoundly grateful for it," Grant murmurs and moves to sit on the edge of the bed. It's a small room and he's not very far away. Gerard's mouth is hot and wet and he has a clever tongue and Frank can barely keep his eyes open to look at either of them. He puts his hands in Gerard's hair and holds, grip loose.
"Frank, you are the most beautiful creature I've ever -"

Grant stops, but Gerard hums and reaches back, managing to close a hand around Grant's ankle.

"I love you," Frank tells Grant, "I love you so - God, I can barely believe you're here." Gerard sucks hard at the head of his cock and Frank gasps. "I can barely believe any of this," he whispers, stroking Gerard's hair.

Gerard sucks harder, swirls his tongue around the head of Frank's cock and pulls back. "C'mon, Frank," he whispers. "Come for us." He goes back down, keeps going, until he's swallowing around Frank. Frank can't hold out any longer. He tugs on Gerard's hair and Gerard pulls back, letting Frank fill his mouth.

He strokes his hands over Frank's thighs, up over the birds, and then turns to Grant. He rests his hands on Grant's knees and leans up to kiss him. Grant buries a hand in his hair and kisses him hard, and Frank gasps at the echo of sensation.

Grant moans into Gerard's mouth and Gerard's fingers tighten on Grant's knees. When Grant pulls back panting, he gasps out, "So good, Frank. You taste so good."

"So dirty," Frank groans, but mostly admiringly. He wants now, a deep twisting ache even through the last sparking waves of orgasm. Gerard returns to him, climbing up onto his lap and cupping his cheek to kiss him.

"I'm creative."

"Yeah, you are," Frank murmurs and leans forward. The kiss lasts a long time, until Frank feels selfish because there's no one touching Grant. He peeks over Gerard's shoulder to see Grant, sprawled back against the pillows again with his hand cupped loosely against his chest. He realizes suddenly that he can't stay. Can't even sleep in the same bed as Grant. "I should go now," he says, "Back upstairs."

Grant looks pained, but he doesn't argue. Gerard's hands run over Frank's chest, soothingly. "We can. In the morning. We'll have coffee and. I don't know," he murmurs. Frank can only nod and Gerard moves back so Frank can get up.

Frank leans forward and embraces him again. "Thank you. For this." At the doorway, he looks back at Grant and says, "I love you."

"Forever," Grant answers simply.

Frank bites his lip and takes the stairs up to his room two at a time. He sighs when he realizes he left without his clothes, but it's not like they're going anywhere. He gets in bed and settles back under the covers. He feels the slight impression of arms wrapping around him and it's almost enough.

 

***

 

Grant holds Gerard close. He hopes Frank can feel it. Can feel the kiss he presses tenderly into Gerard's forehead. "I hope you didn't feel... like all you were was a conduit for Frank and me, beautiful."

"I wanted to be your conduit. I asked to be," Gerard murmurs. "I think - I love you, too, Grant."

Grant swallows and tightens his arms around Gerard's shoulders. "I find myself astonished that we only just met. It feels as if you've been a part of me for much longer. And not just because you carry parts of Frank in you."

"I want to be a part of you," Gerard says. Grant cups Gerard's cheek.

"You are. You're the best thing to happen to me in a thousand years and I love you."

Gerard tucks his face against Grant's neck. "Guess I'm part of Frank, too," he mumbles.

"You are," Grant assures him. He's not entirely sure of the ramifications of that, or the extent of their physical link. He supposes those are thoughts for tomorrow. Right now he can only hold Gerard and hope Frank feels it too.

Grant sleeps soundly in Frank's house, the best he's slept in some time. And when he wakes, he has Gerard in his arms still, but he eases himself away and goes to find clothing. He'll let Gerard sleep. He finds Frank sitting on his back porch with a cup of coffee and a cigarette dangling between his fingers. He doesn't seem to be particularly intent on either.

"Good morning, love," Grant says, leaning on the railing and sipping his own coffee that he'd poured on his way outside. Frank smiles at him, bright and beautiful as ever.

"Morning. Gerard still sleeping?"

"Yes, and he may for a while. We pushed ourselves hard to get here."

Frank nods. "I... I can't deny I'm glad. I couldn't stop worrying about him. And. I'm so fucking tired of missing you. I don't know if I can stand it if you leave again. But I don't know if I could handle it if you stayed."

"I will do whatever you wish," Grant tells him.

"I want you to stay. For as long as we can both stand it," Frank says.

"I could endure a great deal for you," Grant tells him.

"I... yes, me too." Frank sighs and stubs out his cigarette. "I could have taken a man home recently," he says suddenly, scratching his chin, "a tall, thin bald man. I didn't."

Grant smiles a little bit. "I won't deny, every time I've met someone who reminded me of you, I took them home. Some even lasted a few months. But it never stuck."

"Until Gerard?" Frank asks.

"Two weeks is not sticking," Grant reminds him. Frank waves a hand.

"It will."

"I hate that you're so confident," Grant tells him.

"No, you hate that I'm always right," Frank grins.

"And what of you and Gerard? You are bound to him," Grant says.

"There may be a way to reverse the bond," Frank says. "I haven't even started thinking about it yet."

"Why should you?" Grant asks. "Obviously we'll need to speak with him, but… is the bond something you don't want?"

"You should ask him that. I wouldn't choose to subject anyone to thousands of years' worth of Frank's Greatest Hits," Frank says with a grimace. "I'm pretty sure all my motives for leaving the bond in place - if we even have a choice - are pretty fucking selfish."

"Frank. You are allowed to be selfish." Frank makes a face and Grant goes on. "I know you've had the opposite drilled into you, but you are allowed, especially if it doesn't cause harm to anyone. Perhaps Gerard wants to be bound to you."

"I don't want to use him," Frank says.

"I said the same last night. He swears it was his choice, and, well, it certainly looked like an enthusiastic one at that." Grant watches as Frank's cheeks redden. Sometimes he thinks he loves teasing the angel more than anything else.

Frank notices his smirk and huffs. "Fine. But - I want to talk to him."

Grant nods. "Just don't think about breaking the bond unless you have to."

"I still want you," Frank mumbles, staring down into his coffee cup. "I wish I could make you feel... anything. Other than pain."

"Some days, that is the only thing I want," Grant admits. "But Frank." He sighs, unsure of what to say or how to say it; he goes on anyway. "As much as I want it, I don't need it to love you, to be loved by you."

Frank is still staring at his coffee, but he looks up at that and smiles.

"And I love you very, very much," Grant adds.

"I love you too," Frank replies. Just then, Gerard stumbles out the back door. He kisses Grant where he's standing against the rails and then insinuates himself into Frank's lap and steals his coffee. A look of surprise crosses Frank's face at first, but it melts into a smile and he wraps his arms around Gerard's waist. "There is more of that inside. Thief," he says easily.

"I could use a cigarette too," Gerard mumbles around the rim of the cup. "Left mine upstairs."

"Maybe mine are upstairs too," Frank says, even though Grant can see them on the table right next to him.

Frank hands Gerard a cigarette. "Make Grant give you a light," he says and throws a smirk in Grant's direction. Grant rolls his eyes and snaps his fingers and the end of Gerard's cigarette glows red.

"Wow," Gerard says, eyes a little wide. "That's a nice party trick."

"That's all it is," Grant replies. "Nothing compared to what I could do once. Though I probably shouldn't have done it at all. I've been trying not to draw attention to myself."

"You're inside my wards," Frank says dismissively. "It's nothing."

"We hope," Grant replies. He can't shake the feeling that they won't be able to stay in this bubble for long. Which is distressing. He'd like to see if they could sort things out. Find a workable arrangement.

"Frank," Gerard says, leaning against Frank's side, "do you have to work today?"

Frank shakes his head. "I usually work the seven to three-thirty shift and this is my weekend."

"Good," Gerard replies and kisses his cheek. Frank turns his head and catches Gerard's lips, just briefly, before he pulls back. "Oh," Gerard whispers, and leans back in.

Grant watches them kiss, watches their mouths together. Frank's tattooed hand reaches up to cup Gerard's cheek. They're so fucking beautiful together. "I don't suppose I can talk anyone into going back to bed," Grant says, tipping the last of his coffee into his mouth.

Gerard laughs against Frank's mouth. "I don't know. Start talking."

"Frank has the day off. We have nowhere pressing to be. I imagine - at least, I hope - that he has a much bigger bed up in that tower bedroom of his. And - this is important, Gerard, so repeat after me - I'll show you mine if you show me yours." He raises a suggestive eyebrow.

Gerard laughs again and tips his forehead against Frank's, looking him in the eye. "What do you say?" Frank bites his lip, his eyes dart to Grant and back to Gerard. "I say that sounds like a perfect morning."

Grant opens the door to the house with a flourish. "Lead the way, then," he murmurs.

Gerard and Frank get up in a confusion of stubbed-out cigarette and coffee cup and he follows them upstairs. Up two flights of stairs.

"No wonder you're so fit," Grant grumbles, and Frank laughs. He leads them both into his bedroom, which is indeed large, and airy, and colorful from the stained glass in the windows.

"So," Frank says, clasping his hands behind his back, "what exactly is it that I'm supposed to show you?"

Gerard opens his mouth and then bites his lip. "What do you want, love?" Grant asks.

"I want to see you both. Your true forms."

Grant is watching Frank, and sees his lips twitch. "Go on, angel. I know you want to," he taunts gently. "Such pride."

"You never complained," Frank snarks back. Frank tugs off his t-shirt, closes his eyes, and his wings appear. The colors from the stained glass reflect on his pale wings and Grant hears Gerard's intake of breath.

"Can I touch them?" Gerard asks.

"Be gentle," Frank says.

"He knows," Grant tells him, and Frank's eyes fly to meet his. "Oh, I already showed him mine," Grant purrs.

"I haven't seen your wings in a long time," Frank murmurs. "Please?" Grant takes off his own shirt, closes his eyes and rolls his neck and he feels his wings open.

His own feathers, blue-black and deep amethyst, seem to trap light; Frank's, white to dove-gray with the faintest tinge of purple, seem to reflect it. Gerard reaches out to trace a long white flight feather, and Frank licks his lips automatically but his eyes never seem to leave Grant for long.

Gerard runs his hands slowly and gently over Frank's chest and up his shoulders and over the curve his wings. Frank's eyes close then. Grant knows the feeling.

"What do you want?" Gerard asks him, circling around, running his fingers over the feathers.

"Can I…" Frank trails off and Grant is certain he knows what Frank wants.

"Do you want to fuck him, Frank?" he asks.

"I - Gerard. Please." Frank twitches a wing, sending feathers fluttering.

"You ever fucked like this, Frank?" Gerard asks, hand curving around Frank's stomach.

Frank shakes his head. "Never."

Gerard lets his hand slide back and down Frank's ass to pull his hips flush against Gerard's. "How do you want it? What would work best?"

Frank hums. "Take your clothes off," he murmurs, "and go kneel on the bed, facing the headboard." Gerard moves to obey and Frank lifts his eyes to meet Grant's. "You should open him up for me."

"With pleasure," Grant replies.

"And what will you get?" Frank asks and Grant smiles.

"Perhaps I shall find my own pleasure as I watch the two of you. Or perhaps I'll wait for Gerard's mouth."

"You should wait. So I can see," Frank tells him. Grant's not sure which of them takes the step, but suddenly they're close. Probably too close. Definitely too close if he can feel the crackling energy that surrounds Frank in his winged form. But he craves it, too.

He takes a deep breath. "Supplies, Frank?"

"The nightstand. Left side," Frank replies. He's breathless and his face is pink and he's clearly enjoying this as much as Grant is.

"I love you," Grant whispers.

"Always. Now go," Frank says with a tiny smile, stepping aside.

Stripping as he goes, he gets the lube out of the nightstand and drops it to the bed so he can run his hands up Gerard's back and around to his chest to pull him back against Grant's own chest. He can't help but wrap his wings around him as well as his arms. Gerard gasps as he's surrounded by dark and feathers, and Grant bends his head to kiss Gerard's neck, to bite at the join of neck and shoulder. Gerard presses back against him, and Grant supports the weight, runs one hand down his stomach to give his cock a few gentle strokes.

Gerard moans. "Fuck, Grant."

"That's the idea. But Frank will be the one to do it this time," Grant murmurs in his ear.

"I want -"

"I know, sweet one." Grant slicks his fingers and presses in. Gerard moans again and presses back against Grant's fingers. "My, you are desperate today," he says and thrusts his fingers.

"You got up too early," Gerard says reproachfully, then groans as Grant crooks his fingers.

"But isn't this better?" Grant asks. "We get Frank, too."

"Mmm," Gerard murmurs. "More." Grant gives him three. Gerard breathes hard through his nose and Grant crooks his fingers again. "Please," he begs.

"Greedy," Grant teases. "Should I let the angel take you in hand, beautiful?"

"Yes," Gerard moans and Grant kisses the back of his neck and pulls himself away to the chair at the writing desk. He mantles his wings and watches as Frank takes his place. "Please," Gerard begs.

Frank has his wings folded tightly against his back, and for a moment Grant only has eyes for the contrast between feathers and tattoos. Then Frank reaches for the lube to slick his cock, and Grant follows the motion greedily. Fuck, he wants.... But Frank's hands on Gerard's hips are beautiful too, and their twin moans as Frank thrusts in.

Gerard's fingers are tight around where he's gripping the headboard. Frank reaches forward to cover Gerard's hands with his before he starts thrusting slow and steady. "Frank, fuck," Gerard moans.

"You feel incredible," Frank whispers. Gerard only moans and Frank pulls one hand down and wraps it around his cock.

"Frank," Gerard gasps.

"I love being inside you, Gerard, it's been so long," Frank says in a low voice.

Grant makes a noise at that. He wonders how long it's been since Frank has been with anyone. Grant is glad it's Gerard. Gerard pulls Frank's other hand down from the headboard and holds it over his stomach. "So good, Frank." Grant just watches them, the curve of Frank's arse and the flex of his muscles, the way his head bows and his forehead presses against Gerard's neck. He's almost ready to come, Grant can see it.

"Gerard," Frank whispers.

"Please, Frankie. Harder. More," Gerard moans. Frank speeds up his thrusts, speeds up his hand on Gerard's cock. His wings flutter once, strongly, as his spine arches and his hips snap forward into Gerard. He comes with a bitten-off cry, wrapping around Gerard to stroke faster, harder until Gerard is cursing and coming too. Frank falls back to sit on his heels and pulls Gerard with him. He wraps his arms and wings around Gerard and buries his face in Gerard's neck.

They sit perfectly still for a little while, and Grant just watches them greedily, hands clutching tight to his own thighs. Then Frank pulls back after Gerard twists around for a kiss, and Frank must will his wings away because the creamy expanse of feathers is suddenly gone. He slides off the bed and comes to stand in front of Grant.

Grant automatically takes the object Frank hands him - a fallen feather. "Your turn," Frank whispers. Grant reaches out with the feather and slides it over Frank's stomach. He smiles with satisfaction when Frank shivers.

"My turn," Grant repeats.

"Get on the bed?" Gerard asks. Grant gets on the bed - Frank's bed, hell, where the sheets smell of him and faintly of sex. Grant wants to stay here forever. He leans back against the pillows and looks inquiringly at Gerard, still twirling the feather between his fingers. Gerard settles between his legs, kisses the tops of his thighs. Grant runs the feather down Gerard's cheek.

Gerard hums with pleasure. Frank gasps, and Grant turns his head, finds him where he's settled, on his knees by the side of the bed again. Grant repeats the caress with the feather, across Frank's knuckles this time. Frank bites his lip and Gerard reaches out, rubs his thumb over Frank's mouth until Frank swipes his tongue over it and sucks it in. "Fuck," Gerard gasps.

"Gerard," Grant begs. He's learned patience over fucking millennia, but this is trying even him. Gerard wraps his free hand around the base of Grant's cock and looks up at him.

"How about whatever Frank does to my fingers, I do to your cock?"

"Smart boy," Grant breathes.

"Genius," Frank says, giving Gerard's fingertips a teasing lick. Gerard follows suit. Grant leans his head back against the pillows and moans. Frank sucks the tips of Gerard's fingers into his mouth and swirls his tongue around them. Gerard does the same with the head of Grant's cock. Grant doesn't know where to look after that; both dark heads have eyes watching him hungrily, mouths red and wet. Grant sinks the fingers of one hand into Gerard's hair, clutches the feather in the other.

Frank sucks Gerard's fingers all the way into his mouth and Gerard sinks down, tongue working against the bottom of Grant's cock, throat swallowing around the head. Grant's fingers tighten in Gerard's hair. "Please," Grant begs, watching as Frank starts sucking on Gerard's fingertips again, as Gerard pulls back to suck hard at the head of his cock, stroking the base with his hand. His tongue is wicked and his hand feels wonderful and everything he's doing is something Frank is doing to him. It's... Grant can't even begin.

He runs his fingers through Gerard's hair, again and again, but it's Frank who moans. Gerard keeps sucking but Frank presses his face against Gerard's hand and whispers, "Grant, Grant."

The feather shakes as Grant touches it to Frank's lips. He drops it, hand fisting in the sheets. Gerard sucks hard, swirls his tongue, and Grant comes, thrusting up into his mouth. Gerard pulls off Grant's cock, squeezes his thighs, and leans in to kiss Frank. When they finally pull apart Grant laughs breathlessly.

"Fair play, eh?"

Frank looks up at him, big dark eyes and a drop of liquid in the corner of his mouth still. His
tongue darts out and licks it off his lip. "Fair play," Frank replies. He gets up on the bed and curls up next to them. Gerard shifts and leans his head against Grant's stomach and tangles his legs with Frank's.

If Grant wasn't still in a bit of a post-orgasmic haze, he'd fuss more - Frank so close! But Gerard is curled like a parenthesis between the two of them, a warm mortal barrier. He strokes a hand through Gerard's hair and lifts the feather again and strokes it down Frank's cheek. "I love you," he tells both of them. For the first time, he thinks, really thinks, that maybe they can make this work.

They both answer at the same time, voices blending, "I love you too." Grant closes his eyes.

"So much," he murmurs. And yet, he still can't shake the feeling that another shoe is about to drop. He sleeps for a while, maybe. Frank's bed is soft and his room is warm and bright. Then Gerard crawls onto his chest with kisses and whispers of breakfast. "Brunch," Grant corrects, and Gerard laughs.

"Whatever gets you downstairs."

Gerard moves back and Grant sits up. Frank is pulling on his clothes and smiling at them softly. "C'mon. I make a decent hash."

Grant crosses to pick up his fallen clothing, hesitates, then tucks it under his arm. "I'll go down and dress," he says.

Gerard kisses him again and goes downstairs first. Grant gestures for Frank to precede him, but Frank shakes his head. "I want to watch your ass."

"Naughty," Grant murmurs. He'd walk around naked all day for Frank's amusement, but the prickly feeling hasn't quite gone away. He ducks into the room and puts on proper clothes.

When he gets downstairs, Frank has a pan sizzling on the stove and more coffee brewing. Grant wraps himself around Gerard and kisses his neck. "Mmm," Gerard says. "That feels nice."

Frank murmurs something from the stove.

"Frank?"

"Just. What Gerard said. Feels nice. So what do we want to do today? Have either of you been here before? We could do the tourist thing," Frank says and throws some chopped vegetables in the pan.

Grant mostly wants to stand here in Frank's kitchen, watching him cook. He's barefoot, wearing a threadbare t-shirt and holey jeans, but he moves like a professional chef. Perhaps he was one. "Frank, were you ever a chef?" Grant asks.

"For about ten years in the seventies," Frank replies with a grin over his shoulder. "But the restaurant business is fucking small and I couldn't keep doing it as long as I wanted to."

"But now you can cook for your friends! I may never leave," Gerard says, smirking around the rim of a cup of fresh coffee.

"I probably wouldn't argue if you decided not to," Frank says quietly. He gives his pan one last expert little flip, sending everything into the air and back into the pan, and turns to the table.

Frank serves food onto thick stoneware plates. His silver is real, scratched with age but polished. Most of the mugs have rude slogans on them. Grant aches to grab his hips and pull him down into his lap, but the food does smell delicious. He picks up a fork instead, listens as Gerard asks Frank questions about San Francisco's neighborhoods.

"The North Shore is our Little Italy. Lots of great food and markets. It's been getting more gentrified over the years, which is actually kind of a bummer. But that's where the Beats hung out. That's where City Lights is. I should take you there today. I bet you'd love it," Frank rambles. "It might be my favorite area of the city other than—" He stops mid-sentence and closes his eyes for a moment and then they fly open. "Fuck!"

Grant feels it too. "What corner?"

"The front. For now, there's more than one," Frank bites out, already out of his chair. Grant grabs a confused - shading quickly to terrified - Gerard by the wrist and tugs him after them.

Grant hears feet on the wooden steps leading up to the front porch and sends out an inquisitive thought. He swears at what he discovers. "It's Daniel," he tells Frank in a low voice. "He must have confused the wards somehow. And he definitely won't be alone."

"I can do a sending spell to banish demons," Frank whispers back, "It'll send them all back to their lairs, but it won't distinguish that you - that you're -"

"Do it," Grant tells him grimly. "I'll come back."

There's a knock on the door.

"I'll need to borrow power," Frank says urgently.

Grant closes his eyes for a moment, then kisses Gerard on the cheek. "Don't be afraid," he says, then, "Do it, Frank."

Frank reaches out and Grant takes his hand. Waves of pain rush up and down his body, like cramps and chills and electricity all at once. He struggles to stay upright, to resist the urge to crumple over and curl away from the touch, and he can hear Frank chanting, voice strained, clearly fighting the same urge. Gerard steps forward, reaches out a hand, but Grant stops him. "Don't, or he might end up sending you too." Gerard looks confused, but doesn't come closer.

Grant looks back to Frank. He's nearly done. Grant squeezes his hand and then with a whirling, horrible whoosh, he's gone.

He opens his eyes again on his couch in Scotland. Vince and Cameron are sitting in chairs they've pulled up beside him and they look very, very concerned. "Fuck," he moans. "A telephone? I have to… fuck Daniel and everything to do with him."

"We've already spoken to your Gerard," Vince tells him. "He called from your mobile as soon as - Jesus, Grant," he frowns. "Did it have to be a sending spell?"

"We found you slumped on your own front porch, Grant, it was a little fucking disturbing," Cameron adds. "And you're going to be good for nothing for a while."

Grant coughs. "Then you'll have to be good for me," he says. "We've got to get back to San Francisco. Immediately."

"Grant," Vince practically pleads. Grant raises a hand.

"No, we can't leave them like that. Especially not since they've likely discovered that the key is nearby. I have to get back to them."

"At least let yourself sleep for a few hours," Cameron says. "Lucky for you, we already booked flights for first thing tomorrow morning. And fuck you very much for letting him expend your power so we can't fly like normal demonic beings."

"At least the rest of the fuckers don't have powers either," Grant sighs. "They won't bounce back nearly as fast, but they will bounce back. Why is he so fucking persistent in trying to ruin my life?"

Cameron laughs. "Because without powers he's had to be that pathetic for hundreds of years?" Grant gives him a stern look, and Cameron sighs. "Fine. Key, danger, rescue the damsel in distress and all that. Will the angel at least say thank you?"

Grant rolls his eyes. "Of course he will. Phone, please? I need to… I need to speak with them both." Vince hands over the phone and Grant calls Gerard. It takes him three rings to answer, which concerns Grant quite a bit, but he doesn't sound like he's in any danger when he picks up.

"Grant," he says. "Are you all right? Your friends said you'd passed out."

"I'm fine, just - a bit drained," he laughs wryly at his own humor. "I'll be back as soon as a plane can get me there, Gerard, I promise. Are you -"

"Two very agitated angels just showed up at the house, Grant. I am just trying to stay out of the way until I'm sure they're done yelling."

"Let me talk to him," Grant asks. "Please."

"Okay," Gerard replies. "I. You'll be here soon?"

"Vince and Cameron booked us flights for early tomorrow. Which is," he checks the clock, "really in a few hours. We'll arrive by two at the latest, I promise."

"Okay. Here he is."

"Frank, are you all right?" Grant asks.

"I'll survive," Frank replies. "Are you? I'm so sorry that I—"

"Frank. I insisted you do that spell, remember? We didn't have the time or resources to defend ourselves against a demon attack, nevermind the key."

"They didn't even have powers," Frank grumbles. "I should have -"

"Should have what? Demons don't need powers to be ruthless fucks, Frank."

"Now you sound like James and Kat," Frank says.

"I'm sure they appreciate the comparison," Grant says drily. "I'll be back as soon as I can, Frank. Let Gerard take care of you, I know you're fucking lying about being all right."

"Back at you," Frank huffs, then adds, "I love you."

"And I love you. Be safe," he says and hangs up. "Please don't start," he says. He's so very tired.

"We won't nag if you sleep," Vince says in a reasonable tone, even as Cameron sighs pointedly. Grant pulls the coverlet back up and closes his eyes and tries to obey.

 

***

 

When Gerard takes Frank the phone, he sits next to him on the couch and refuses to move after. Frank leans against him as he talks to Grant and leans more heavily when he hangs up. "Sorry," Frank says to him.

"Frank, you couldn't have... it's not your fault," Gerard says quietly.

"No, it's Grant's, for leading a pack of demons to your door," James says sourly.

"James," Frank sighs. "He didn't intend it and I foolishly thought my wards would be enough. The sending spell bought us time. And we'll need him and Cameron and Vince, I think. Before this is all over."

"I'm pretty sure you're all on the same side," Gerard says, frowning at James.

"We are," Kat says. "It's just... when you see someone you love hurting for a thousand years, the reasons get blurred and it's... easier to maintain old grudges, I guess."

"Maybe if you're done yelling, I can introduce you to Gerard now?" Frank says tiredly.

"Yes, do introduce us," James says, eyebrows raised at them.

"So, a few months back, I had a dream that I was standing in the garden in Assisi in front of this guy. He was kinda terrified," Frank explains.

"And you didn't think telling us this might be a good idea?" Kat asks.

"Didn't want to bother you," Frank says, sounding sort of embarrassed. "But I kept having dreams about him. And it turns out, he'd found a lot of the birds."

"Your little breadcrumbs. Of course," James says.

"Our powers coming back must have done something to them. Grant thinks I was leaving bits of myself in them, and Gerard, when he found them.... He was dreaming about me too."

"Grant?" James asks.

"He found Grant first," Frank explains, kicking gently at James's sneaker when he rolls his eyes. "Anyway, they came looking for me. And then… it's complicated. But we're kind of. Bound together," Frank admits.

"Frankie," Kat sighs. "You need to be careful. What if someone else out there goes around poking at your little carvings? How many pieces of your grace are you willing to give up?"

Frank is silent for a beat too long, and both James and Kat look vaguely horrified at him. "It doesn't matter. And I'd know by now if anyone other than Gerard had been affected."

He's leaning heavily against Gerard, still, and Gerard puts an arm around him. "Frank, you should go lie down. I promised Grant. Can't this wait?"

"We have to talk about the key," Kat says.

"The key is safe. Those wards will drive off anyone but a mortal. And even if they know where it is, even if they convince someone to go inside, it's hidden. Hidden well." Frank wheezes a little as he sits up.

"We'll talk about the key later. I want to know about it too. And you two can make some new wards for this place," Gerard orders, rubbing Frank's back. Kat and James look amused as fuck, but Gerard doesn't care. Frank is fucking exhausted to the bone and obviously in at least a little bit of pain.

"Do it," Frank murmurs. "I… fuck, I wish I could sleep for a million years."

"We can manage at least a few hours," Gerard says and helps Frank off the couch and up the stairs. He gets Frank settled in bed before saying, "I'm gonna go get my bag from the other room and be right back, okay?" He should probably call Mikey and Ray at some point too. Shit, has it really only been a day?

Gerard grabs his things from the guest room. It's kind of amazing how much he already spread out in one day. Then again, he was always notorious for that at home. He pauses, grimaces at himself in the mirror. Home, or Mikey's guest room? He'd rather - well. Stay here. Fuck it all, he is just going to sound as insane as he's felt all these months and admit it.

He really needs to call them. He doesn't want to leave Frank for that long right now, though. Maybe later.

Frank is already in bed when Gerard reaches the third floor, but he hasn't quite made it under the covers. Gerard goes over and prods at him until he moves, then slides in beside him and pulls the covers over them both. Frank curls into his side and sighs. "Does it hurt? Do you need anything?" Gerard asks quietly.

"Hurts everywhere," Frank sighs. Gerard takes hold of the hand he'd used to touch Grant and kisses the palm, then each finger. Frank sighs and wraps himself around Gerard more tightly.

"I could get you some pain meds too."

"Don't want you to move," Frank tells him.

"Then I won't," Gerard says. "But tell me if you change your mind." He holds Frank close and kisses his forehead. He doesn't think he's going to fall asleep, but he does.

He dreams, and for once he's himself, sitting next to Frank on a park bench with a view of the Golden Gate.

"I wish you'd let me talk you into buying that little restaurant on the corner," he says.

"I'd have to spend most of the rest of the Bridge Fund," Frank says.

"But you'd love it," Gerard says.

"I love you," Frank replies with a small smile.

"Yeah, you do," Gerard says and kisses his cheek. "You'd love it, Frankie. And you can do it for as long as you want."

"Most new businesses -"

"Frank, this is not the time for statistics, it is the time for faith. In yourself, and in me too, because I know you can do this."

"You sound like this priest I once knew," Frank says. Gerard laughs.

"I do that sometimes. C'mon. We're in this together, the three of us. If it doesn't work out, we'll help."

"Don't know what I did to deserve you," Frank says, lacing a hand through Gerard's hair and leaning in.

"That's my line," Gerard says against his lips, and Frank's laughing as he kisses him.

Gerard wakes up and he's still smiling faintly. Frank's face is pressed against his neck. He's pretty sure that's the nicest dream he's had involving Frank. He runs his hands over all the parts of Frank he can reach. Frank doesn't wake up, just wraps himself around Gerard a little tighter.

He misses Grant so much. He's scared. He's intimidated by the two angels - despite mouthing off to them earlier - and he's worried about Frank. He never again wants to see the expressions of agony that he'd seen when Frank and Grant touched. It's not that he hadn't believed they couldn't touch, but he hadn't quite been prepared for the truth of it. He holds back a shiver and tightens his arms around Frank. Maybe he should try to sleep again.

He manages it for a little while and doesn't dream. When he wakes up the second time, he knows there will be no going back to sleep. He still doesn't want to leave Frank, but he's kind of hungry and he needs a cigarette and he needs to call his brother. He eases himself out of bed and heads downstairs.

Outside the door of Frank's room, he finds Grant's neatly-packed bag waiting. Kat, he thinks, who usually uses the guest room Frank had given Grant and Gerard. The silent gesture of - he doesn't know what, approval? - makes him feel a little better and he goes down to the kitchen.

He's not really surprised to find James and Kat sitting at the kitchen table. Kat's got her hands wrapped around a steaming cup of coffee and James is biting into a sandwich. They both stare at him. Gerard puts his hands on his hips and lets them look. He's really not in the mood to be nice. But he will. If they are. Because, for one thing, he knows how much they and Frank all love one another.

"There's more coffee in the pot," Kat tells him after a beat.

"Thanks," Gerard replies and moves to refill his mug that's still on the counter.

"How's he doing?" James asks.

"He's asleep," Gerard says. "Hoping he stays that way for a while. That sandwich stuff still in here?" he asks, hand on the fridge.

"Yup. Top shelf," James replies. "Condiments in the door."

Gerard carefully constructs a sandwich for himself. He almost takes it outside so he can smoke, but sits at the table with them instead.

"We feel bad, you know," Kat says after a while. "We let Frank pull away from us. We kept living in LA, doing our separate things and letting him stay up here alone."

"It's not like we didn't talk," James adds. "We talk all the time. But Frank - he likes to pretend he's fine. And we know what he has to deal with, and we let him."

"Maybe you should stop. Because I don't think he's been fine for a long time," Gerard says and takes a bite of his sandwich.

"It's the key. He takes his duty really seriously," Kat says. "And it is his. We were only ever sent down to help him."

"Well, now's the time to help," Gerard replies.

James looks thunderous. "You're a fucking presumptuous little shit, aren't you?"

Gerard sighs. "Sorry, I didn't mean to... I'm just. Worried."

"You don't understand," Kat says, clearly playing good cop. "If the key is in danger, Frank will - he has to protect it. It's his responsibility. He'll have to leave. Or he'll have to -" she stops.

"Have to?" Gerard asks. James and Kat exchange a look.

"The other option is to destroy it," James explains. "It would... deactivate the Gate. And make all of us mortal." Gerard just stares.

"Is that -"

James laughs. "Doesn't sound hard to a mortal, does it? Just live, and die. But it's the last resort, it's failure. And it's losing our grace, permanently. Frankie may not have cared about losing his powers, but he'll care about that. You wouldn't be able to un-"

"Priest," Gerard reminds him softly.

"Maybe you do understand," Kat murmurs.

"I mean, not completely. But I went on an epic months-long bender when I left the priesthood, so I know it's not an easy solution or an easy choice to make," Gerard says. "What would you two do?" Gerard asks. "I assume you all have to agree."

"Frank is stubborn. I think... we'd have been willing long ago, but he's determined to see this through. He's such a fucking perfectionist," James says. Gerard pictures Frank tossing together breakfast this morning. Yeah, he can see it.

"Guess you have some talking to do," he says, and they both laugh ruefully.

"You too, unless I am really wrong about a few things," Kat says. Gerard shrugs.

"I'm going back up now," he says. "I - thanks for talking to me." He's ready to talk to Mikey now, more than ready, and he remembers there's a small balcony off the back of Frank's bedroom.

Frank is still asleep when Gerard gets upstairs. His face looks a little less pained in sleep, which Gerard figures is good. He slips out the little door to the balcony and pulls out a cigarette and his phone. He lights up with a sigh of pleasure and calls Mikey's number.

"Hey," Mikey says easily. "How's it going?"

"I feel like I've lived a lifetime in a day," Gerard replies. "Shit, Mikey. A lot has gone down. It's. I don't even know where to start."

"You're officially worrying me now, just so you know. Start somewhere."

"So, not long after we hung up yesterday, Frank found us," Gerard starts and tells the whole story. Well, he glosses over some of the more explicit details.

Mikey lets him finish, then says, "So you're accidentally in the middle of, like, the angel and demon WWE?"

"I...maybe? I don't know. I'm just the regular dude, for once."

"I don't believe that, and I don't think you do either. You're there for a reason. So I guess I gotta get my ass out there too, to watch your back."

"I... please? I mean, even if nothing really happens I want you to meet Frank and... I just want you here. Ray too," Gerard replies.

"I can make that happen," Mikey says.

"And that's why you're so great," Gerard tells him. "Use my credit card. I know you have the numbers memorized."

"If you insist," Mikey replies.

"I really do. Love you, Mikeyway."

"I know you do. You want me to bring you anything from home?"

Gerard refrains from saying anything like "all my worldly possessions, please." "Maybe a couple sketchbooks," he says, and he can practically hear Mikey grin.

"You got it, Gee."

"See you soon," Gerard says. "Hopefully Frank is feeling up for all these airport runs."

"Or you can give us the address and we'll figure it out," Mikey suggests.

"Or that," Gerard replies. Except he doesn't know the address. "Text me your flight info and I'll try to get the address."

Mikey agrees, and they say goodbye. Gerard finishes his cigarette and eyes the pack, but Frank's bed is pretty tempting, too.

He crawls under the covers and this time Frank blinks awake. "Where'd you go?" he murmurs against Gerard's chest.

"Had some food and a smoke."

"I can smell that part," Frank says, sniffing at Gerard.

"Talked to Kat and James a bit. Called my brother," Gerard goes on.

"Yeah? How'd that go?" Frank asks.

"Could have been worse," Gerard says diplomatically. "And my brother and his boyfriend are flying out here. I hope you don't -"

"Grant has his family coming with him, I have mine. It's only fair. And I did say I wanted to meet them, didn't I? Hope they don't mind my sofa bed, though," Frank murmurs.

"Guess we're lucky you don't mind bedmates," Gerard answers.

"Hope you don't mind being in the middle," Frank says.

"Sleeping between two hot men? Yeah, I totally mind that."

"How about sleeping with one very tired hot man, er, angel?"

"I think I can deal with that," Gerard says and leans in to kiss Frank's forehead. Frank kisses his chest in return, but he's asleep again almost immediately. Gerard wraps him snugly in his arms and closes his eyes. He hopes Grant is still asleep. Or on his way to them and asleep on the plane.

*

Gerard wakes the next morning to the sensation of lips moving on his neck and for a minute it's the only thing in his head - a yes, that, more. He moans and feels a scratchy little laugh against his neck.

"You like that, huh?"

Gerard slides a hand up Frank's side under his shirt. "Fuck yeah."

"Good, because it's a really long time since I kissed anyone. And I feel a lot better this morning."

Frank is pressed tight against him, and yeah, that's pretty obvious. "'M glad," Gerard says and meets Frank's lips when he lifts his chin. Gerard rolls and pulls Frank on top of him. Frank sighs happily and leans down to kiss Gerard again. His tongue slides into Gerard's mouth and their kiss is slow and thorough. The kind of sleepy kisses Gerard is pretty sure he loves best. Except for all the other kinds of kisses.

"You okay with more?" Frank whispers.

"Yeah," Gerard whispers back. "As long as you are. You kind of had a hard day yesterday."

"It isn't going to get easier," Frank says. "And I want this. I want - what you've given me, I want to give back."

"Frankie, you don't have to," Gerard replies.

"Yeah, but I really fucking want to," Frank says against his lips.

"Okay," Gerard replies.

"You're so gorgeous," Frank says into his ear. "And I know the dreams have plagued you, but I feel so close to you." His lips travel over Gerard's jaw and cheeks. Gerard pushes his shirt up higher, tracing lines up and down his spine.

"The fact that I'm here right now is worth it," Gerard murmurs. Frank starts sucking just below his ear. "Totally fucking worth it."

"I think I need you," Frank says, biting his ear.

"I can feel how much you need me," Gerard teases.

Frank rolls his hips against Gerard's and lifts his head. He tucks Gerard's hair behind ear. "I want you to fuck me."

Gerard draws in a breath. "Frank." He was already hard, now he's aching.

"Frank, yes?" Frank looks at him expectantly and licks his lips.

"Yes." Gerard pulls Frank's shirt up and over his head and rolls Frank over onto his back. Frank grimaces a little and Gerard leans down to kiss him. "You sure you're up for this, angel?" Gerard whispers against his cheek. He's trying to keep it light, but he's worried too.

"Yeah. I. Just. Please, Gerard," he whispers.

"Okay," Gerard replies. "Tell me if I'm hurting you, okay?"

Gerard rolls off of Frank and carefully tugs his sweatpants down his legs, then strips off his own clothes. He retrieves the lube and curls up at Frank's side again, stroking his hand over Frank's chest, stopping to play with his nipples. And staying there for a while when he sees Frank's reaction. Frank bites his lip and breathes hard and his face... that's not discomfort. He leans down to to slide his tongue around one of Frank's nipples, then the other.

"Oh," Frank whispers, hands finding Gerard's head. Gerard sets his teeth gently into one peaked nipple and Frank arches up into it. Gerard licks over the bitten flesh gently, then repeats the gesture as he plucks at the other with his fingers, and draws out a moan. He doesn't want to be done, but neither of them is actually long on patience right now, he thinks.

He moves further down Frank's stomach, nipping at his ribs, kissing over the bird tattoos on his hips again like they're old friends. They are, really, he loves them. Despite the fact that they brought the dreams he's been desperate to get rid of, finding each carved bird had been so comforting. He gives both tattoos one last caress of lips before slicking his fingers and circling Frank's hole slow and teasing. Frank just holds onto Gerard's head and moans.

Gerard kisses his inner thighs before slipping a single finger inside. "Fuck, Gerard," he gasps. Gerard kisses the top of his thigh and thrusts his finger slowly. He's pretty impatient, but he also knows it's been a long time since Frank has had anyone. When Frank circles his hips, he adds another finger.

"You are," he murmurs, "so amazing. You're every boy I couldn't bring myself to talk to in art school, and every one I couldn't let myself look at after I -"

"I always found it sad," Frank breathes, "that your Catholic church makes something so beautiful a sin."

"Not your Catholic church?"

"No, that one belongs to you mortals. I'm an angel, Gerard. We love." Gerard breathes out and nuzzles Frank's thigh. "More, Gerard," Frank whispers and slides his fingers through through Gerard's hair. Gerard gives him a third finger, thrusts them until Frank tugs at a lock of his hair. "Ready. I'm ready. Please."

Gerard is more than ready. He pulls back and slicks himself and helps Frank get in position. He pushes in as slowly as he can. Frank feels so fucking good around his cock, he can barely breathe. "Frank," he moans.

"It's always so good," Frank says. "You need to -"

"I'll make it last," Gerard tells him, and Frank wraps his legs around his waist. Gerard leans down to kiss him and rolls his hips slowly. Frank kisses back, arms curling around Gerard's neck. Gerard keeps his thrusts slow and his hands gentle. He can't talk, kissing Frank like this, but he barely has words anyway. Everything is hot and slow and so fucking - perfect. Except for one thing. Grant isn't here. "Wish Grant could see us," Gerard whispers in Frank's ear. "He'd love watching me fuck you."

"Some other time," Frank breathes, ending on a moan as Gerard shifts to slide deeper. Gerard forces himself to keep his thrusts slow and steady. Partly because he doesn't want to hurt Frank and partly because he wants it to last forever. Frank is so responsive, full of gasps and moans - and curses, too, which makes Gerard smile - and he holds Gerard close and runs fingers through his hair and over his shoulders and arms. Gerard hasn't done this for a long time, and he can't keep his hands or his mouth still either. He kisses Frank's neck, shoulders, chest, runs hands up his arms, sucks on his fingertips when they venture close enough.

Frank thrusts back against him. "Gerard," he moans. "Fuck, you feel so..."

"You too," Gerard whispers in his ear. He cups Frank's cheek and kisses him long and slow, then reaches a hand between them and starts stroking Frank's cock in time with his thrusts. "Come while I'm inside you," Gerard tells him. "I want to feel everything."

"Yessss," Frank hisses and thrusts up into his hand. Gerard speeds up his strokes on Frank's cock and presses his lips to Frank's neck. "Oh," he gasps out, and arches up, and Gerard can feel him come, a warm rush on their bellies and clenching deep inside.

Gerard murmurs, "Fuck, Frankie." He thrusts a few more times, still slow and controlled so he doesn't hurt Frank. That only makes it more intense when he finally comes, moaning against Frank's neck.

"Gerard," Frank whispers, fingers curling through his hair. Gerard pants and drops kisses over Frank's neck and chest.

"Frankie. Oh, fuck."

"Thank God I didn't give in to my urge to do that last night," Frank says with a little laugh.

Gerard laughs and kisses him. "I'm glad we could do it this morning. I'm glad you're feeling better." He pulls out, kisses away Frank's whimper.

"I've got a ways to go. It is - hard to manage, only having a few powers." Frank snuggles up to his side. "Should go downstairs and make breakfast for my siblings, but I don't want to move."

"I won't make you move," Gerard says. "I'm pretty sure they can manage breakfast for themselves."

"Just a little while longer," Frank says, kissing his shoulder. Gerard holds him close and kisses his temple.

"Everyone will be here soon," he murmurs.

"Yeah," Frank replies. "It'll be good to have Grant back. I hope he's not too bad off."

Gerard hopes so too. He's getting nervous about what it means to have demons out there. He's also a little nervous about having Grant's family and Frank's in the same house. Hopefully they can manage to not fight with each other.

Eventually Frank nuzzles him and pushes himself upright. "I need coffee."

"Oh, fuck. Me too," Gerard moans and scrambles up.

"Also a shower," Frank adds. "You should come with me."

"Okay," Gerard replies and scrambles after him and down the stairs to the bathroom. He suddenly regrets not putting on any clothes, but there's nobody in the hall.

Frank likes hot, hot showers and kissing under the spray. Gerard discovers he likes washing Frank's hair. It's the nicest shower he's had in a long time. They dry each other off and dash back up the stairs and dress.

James and Kat already have coffee going when Frank and Gerard get into the kitchen. Kat smiles brightly when she sees Frank. "Hey, sleepyhead. How're you doing? "

"Better than I was. Glad you're here." Frank is still leaning on Gerard though. Gerard helps him into the chair.

"How about I make breakfast, Frankie?" he asks. "I'm pretty good at pancakes."

"I never say no to pancakes," Frank says with a smile.

"Okay," Gerard replies. James surprises him by helping him get all the stuff from the pantry before he sits back down. Gerard listens to the angels chatter while he works. Aside from some weird conversational turns, he'd never know they were angels. He can tell they're family though. Just as he could with Grant and Cameron and Vince. He finishes cooking a big stack of pancakes and puts them on the table.

He refills everyone's coffee and finally sits down. Frank squeezes his hand under the table. Gerard laughs when they all just dig in. "What, angels don't say grace?"

James laughs. "Not usually. Disappointed?"

"Nah," Gerard replies with a grin. "Not really even surprised. Mostly amused."

Frank leans over and gives him a slightly sticky kiss on the cheek. "The pancakes are good, and I am thankful for them," he says with a little smile.

Gerard beams at him. He feels smitten and ridiculous and he can't stop smiling. He knows it won't last. Knows there will be questions to answer and things to deal with and fucking demons to deal with, but in this moment, he feels good.

*

Having Frank in the passenger side of his car navigating makes driving to the airport surprisingly stress-free. And he lets Frank pick the music, which is definitely a good choice.

"You'll like them," Gerard says. He's been babbling about Mikey and Ray halfway across the city. Frank smiles at him.

"I'm sure I will. Left here."

They pull into the airport short-term parking lot about five minutes later. Frank takes his hand as they walk inside and Gerard beams at him. He sees Ray first, when they get to the baggage claim. The hair helps. Mikey's leaning against Ray, yawning, but when he sees Gerard he grins, and his eyes flick curiously to Frank.

He wraps Mikey tight in his arms, then hugs Ray. When he pulls back, he sees that Frank is smiling at them. "Guys, this is Frank. Who we were looking for the entire time. Frank, my brother and Ray."

"I recognize you," Frank says. "Sorry if that's creepy. It's nice to meet you this way, though."

Mikey nods and smiles a little bit. "Definitely. We've heard a lot about you too. Before Gerard even knew your name."

"I am sorry to drag you into my mess, but the fact is... I think we will need mortal assistance. We need to wait until everyone is assembled, though, to talk it through."

"My car is in the garage," Gerard says. "Let's get you some coffee on the way. We'll - well, some of us need to come back in a couple hours."

Ray shrugs his backpack over his shoulders. "Coffee sounds good."

"Coffee always sounds good," Gerard says.

They get coffee and drive back up 101 to Frank's house. Frank tells them a little about the area as they drive. He sounds so proud. Gerard thinks back to what Kat and James told him, about having to run with the key, and just thinks, no. Frank spent enough time running and Gerard knows he wasn't happy, not really. Gerard just has to convince him to destroy it. He's pretty sure he'll need Grant to back him up, though.

When they arrive back at Frank's house, they introduce Ray and Mikey to the other angels, which goes fairly well. Ray charms James in particular, which is sort of hilarious to Gerard. They spend a couple of hours talking, but Frank is getting more antsy as time goes on, which means Gerard is too.

He's relieved when it's time to leave for the airport again and Frank seems more nervous this time as they drive. "What's wrong?" Gerard asks.

"The demons. Not Grant and his boys, the others. I wish we knew where they'd gone. And if they'll call reinforcements."

Gerard nods. Enough time has passed that if Grant is finally getting back to them, the other demons are definitely regrouping now, too. "We'll have reinforcements too," Gerard says. "And four of ours have powers to work with."

Frank scowls at him. "I'm feeling much better," he says.

"I didn't mean that you don't have any. I just... I don't want to see you like that again. And also, I meant that four of our reinforcements have powers versus none of theirs," Gerard says.

"Fine," Frank sighs. "You're right, of course." He perks up again when they see the turnoff for the airport.

"Déjà vu," Gerard jokes.

"All over again." Frank says with a smile. This time, it's Grant they spot first. He looks exhausted, but he's clearly pleased to see them. Gerard holds him tight with one arm, but keeps hold of Frank's hand.

"Well then," Grant murmurs. "This is a welcome sight."

"I'll kiss you properly at home," Gerard whispers to him, blushing a little when Frank gives him a funny look. Vince and Cameron have hung back a bit, but Gerard smiles at them. "We're really glad you're here," Gerard tells them.

Vince smiles crookedly at him. Cameron and Frank appear to be involved in some form of staring contest. Gerard's pretty sure neither of them are going to win until Frank clears his throat. "We are. Thank you for coming out."

"You are always trouble," Cameron sighs.

"You're a demon. You are supposed to like trouble," Frank retorts.

"I think this just means we all fail rather spectacularly at our prescribed roles," Grant murmurs, smiling fondly at both of them. "We should go. We need to plan before they regroup."

For the first time, Gerard's glad of the size of his boring sedan. All three of the demons have to squeeze together in the back, because of course, Frank can't touch any of them. When the get back to Frank's house, no fights break out and nobody starts arguing right away, so Gerard counts it as a win. They all gather in the living room. It's Gerard who speaks first, talking directly to Frank.

"I think you need to destroy it," he says quietly.

"Who told you?" Frank asks.

"It was us," James says. "And we think he's right."

Frank frowns. "But our duties..."

"Sometimes," Gerard says slowly, "even if you're doing good work, maybe it's not the right work. For you."

"Maybe," Frank whispers and turns to Kat and James. "It would make us mortal. I can't do that to you."

"We all have to agree, Frankie," Kat says. "If we both say yes, will you still say no?"

"I..." he sighs and takes a deep breath. "No. But what if we could hide it again? What if we could save it? I don't want to just give up."

"Frank," Grant says quietly. He hasn't spoken up yet. "How long are you willing to keep running?"

"I... I want to stop. I have for a long time. But... I was the one to suggest this solution. How can I abandon my post now?" he asks. He sounds desperate and sad.

"By acknowledging that you have a choice. And making it."

The two of them stare at each other for a long time. Frank swallows hard and looks down at his hands. Gerard reaches out to take one. "We're here for you. Whatever you choose, you know?" Frank looks at him, then back at Grant.

"I would have died to save you in France. If you let me do this, I will."

"But not before you have the chance to live a full, human life. And not before I have the chance to touch you without pain," Grant whispers.

"That's not fair," Frank says.

"I'm a demon. I tempt," Grant says, not entirely without humor. Frank looks back at James and Kat.

"Yes or no?" he asks Kat.

"Yes," she replies. "It's really fucking hard to meet a nice guy when you're going to live forever and not age."

"James?" Frank asks.

"Yes," he says.

"I see," Frank says. "So it is my decision." He says it like he expected this. Which maybe he did. "I... can't ignore your wishes. Any of them. But - I do want to stay here. I'm done." Gerard squeezes his hand as he explains where inside the mission he's hidden the key, "Here is where it gets complicated, though," Frank says. "Because of the wards I created when I first came here, no angel or demon can get anywhere near the key."

"Then aren't you lucky there are three humans sitting here right now?" Gerard says lightly, looking at Ray, who smiles encouragingly, and Mikey, who nods.

"The six of us can protect the mission from the outside, but if they get human help, I don't know what we'll do," Vince murmurs.

"They'll be too proud," Grant says. "And they don't know where the key is yet, either."

"It won't take them long to figure it out," Frank says. "Now that they're in the city. And if they manage to track any of us, it'd be even easier."

"There are four of us with power, against however many of them with none," Cameron says. "I like those chances."

"They could definitely be worse," James adds. "So... we just gonna go to the mission and send these guys in to get the key and destroy it?"

"Does it have to be more complicated than that?" Gerard asks.

"It does if Daniel and his sidekicks return," Grant says. "No one can protect you inside the mission."

"I guess we'd better not let anyone else inside," Cameron says. He almost sounds like he's looking forward to a fight. Maybe he is.

"Once Gerard and his brothers have the key in hand, the wards will dissolve. That much power dissipation will draw the demons for sure," Frank says.

"You're sure they're already in the city?" Kat asks.

"We just have to assume," Grant says.

"We should do it late this evening. I'd rather do it when there are fewer people around," Frank says. "We can make a perimeter around the building with James, Kat, Vince and Cameron. Grant and I will wait out front. Gerard will need to bring the key to me. Once I have it, the actual destruction.... Well. It will be quick."

"Okay," Gerard says. "It's a plan. You'll have to tell me exactly where to find the key," he says to Frank.

"I will. First, can I get anyone anything? There are two spare bedrooms and the couch is a hide-a-bed. I also have air mattresses."

They spend some time shuffling things around the house, James ending up on an air mattress on Kat's floor. Mikey and Ray in the back bedroom. Vince and Cameron claim the couch and the other air mattress. They don't say much, but Gerard thinks they mean to guard the door. Then Frank disappears into the kitchen to make dinner, and Gerard tags along.

"Can I help?" he asks.

"Just making spaghetti," Frank replies. "It's easy to make a lot."

"Okay. Just let me know," Gerard says. He turns to see Grant leaning against the doorjamb smiling softly at them.

"I missed you so," he says, strolling over to touch Gerard's hair.

"We missed you too," Gerard replies and goes up on the balls of his feet to kiss Grant. "How are you? You look exhausted."

"You're meant to say dashing. Sexy. I'd accept distinguished, but only if you let me feel you up a little after," Grant teases.

"You're all of those things and you can feel me up any time you want. But you also look exhausted," Gerard says gently.

"Did you sleep at all?" Frank asks from where he's standing in front of the stovetop.

"I tried. I couldn't rest until I knew you were safe, love." Grant is still moving, circling closer to Frank.

"You should nap for a bit," Frank murmurs. Grant rests his hip against the counter.

"The next time I sleep, I intend to do it with you in my arms. I'll be fine," Grant tells him. Frank reaches out like he means to touch Grant's wrist, but he doesn't.

Grant steps back, and Gerard wraps his arms around Grant's waist. Grant wraps his own arms around Gerard's shoulders and kisses his temple. "I assume your own recovery went well?" Grant asks Frank.

"Well enough. Gerard took care of me. Wouldn't let me out of bed, really."

"Oh, I can imagine," Grant says, amused.

"It was entirely innocent!" Gerard protests. "Until this morning."

"I like the sound of this," Grant murmurs, leaning down and nuzzling Gerard's jaw until both Gerard and Frank make little noises. "Remember that for later," Grant says. He doesn't let go of Gerard, though.

"Okay, you can both make yourselves useful and help me make a salad," Frank says after a few moments of comfortable silence.

"I'll do it," Grant says.

"Will you go rouse the troops, baby?" Frank says to Gerard. Gerard leans forward and kisses Frank's cheek.

"Sure," he replies. He goes into the living room and tells Vince and Cameron, then goes upstairs. He knocks on Kat and James' door first, then goes to Ray and Mikey's room. "Hey," he says when Ray answers the door. "Uh. Dinner?" He smiles apologetically.

"You take the most interesting vacations," Ray tells him. "Come on, Gee. We're used to this by now."

"I think this one might... not be a vacation?" Gerard says.

Mikey laughs. "What a surprise."

"You're not going to hate me if I move to California, will you?" Gerard asks.

"Maybe we'll just follow you," Mikey says with a shrug.

"You can follow me now to dinner," Gerard says, grabbing Mikey's hand and squeezing when he walks by.

"Dinner sounds good," Ray says fervently.

"Frank's a good cook. Apparently he was a pro back in the day," Gerard says. He couldn't help the note of pride in his voice if he tried.

"Ugh," Mikey says. "Maybe we won't move out here. I know that tone and it just means PDA."

Gerard kicks his ankle. "Shut up."

Mikey punches him in the arm and Gerard laughs and dances away and down the stairs. When he gets into the kitchen, he grabs Frank, who's closest, and dips him back for a kiss.

"Oh," Frank stammers when Gerard lets him up. "Well, you can do that again sometime."

"I will," Gerard says and beams at him.

"Ugh, gross," Mikey complains from behind them. Gerard can't help but smirk.

"Was I just used to annoy your brother?" Frank asks.

"Yes?" Gerard hazards.

"Well, warn me next time, we'll make it really embarrassing," Frank says easily. He starts ordering people to different spots in the kitchen. It's a little bit of a feat, considering two-thirds of them can't sit next to one another, but it happens. And the food is good. Gerard notices Frank looking out the window often, though. He squeezes Frank's hand under the table.

"You can change your mind, if you need to," Gerard whispers.

"I know. But I won't. I'm just. This is the best way, I just can't stand thinking about anyone getting hurt."

"We'll all be careful as we can be," Gerard says. "Don't borrow trouble, Frankie."

Frank takes a deep breath. "Yeah."

Grant leans around Gerard to look at Frank. "We'll do our best and take care of anything that happens."

Frank relaxes a bit after a while and the meal is fun. There's a lot of history between the angels and the demons and they're full of snark and stories. Gerard kind of can't wait until they don't have anything hanging over their heads, no real stress to look forward to, to see how they act with each other then.

When they finish eating, James and Kat volunteer for cleanup. The rest of them go back to the living room. Grant sits in the corner of the couch and Gerard leans against his side. He pulls Frank down so his head is resting in Gerard's lap.

It's a little close for Frank and Grant, but he thinks it's making them all feel a little better, rather than more nervous. They discuss the area of the Mission over and over until everyone is as prepped as they can be. Gerard has to laugh at Ray and Cameron poring over maps on their phones.

"I suppose it'd be impossible to find a parking spot any closer than here to have my car there in case of emergency?" Gerard asks.

"Yeah, it'd do us just as much good in the garage, probably," Frank replies and brushes a kiss against the top of his thigh.

"Is it time yet?" Gerard whispers.

"Almost, love," Grant says. He squeezes Gerard's shoulder.

Finally Frank, James and Kat all look at one another. "Time?" Gerard asks.

"Time," Frank says and stands. The rest follow; Frank leads them out to the sidewalk and they start walking.

"Okay. So the key is in an alcove with a statue of Francis?" Gerard asks Frank again.

"You won't miss it," he replies. "And the last bird I ever carved is there besides. Just pop off the panel next to the carving and the key will be inside. And... Be careful?"

"Promise," Gerard replies.

"Promise me, too," Grant demands.

"I promise," Gerard replies. "We'll go in, get it, and come right back out. It's you guys that need to be careful."

Gerard feels nothing when he walks into the mission, but he sees how the angels and demons all make a careful perimeter. Mikey walks along with Gerard, his cell phone clutched in his hand, and Ray trails them to watch their backs.

Frank was right. The alcove is easy to find. The carving is down by the base, like all the other carvings. It makes Gerard's stomach swoop and he takes a moment to trace over it like he has all the others. The same little buzz travels up his arm. He wonders if Frank felt it. He feels the panel next to it and finds a little catch and pulls.

The panel pops open and Gerard pulls out the carved stone inside. It doesn't look like a key at all, but apparently this little figure is what would open a gate to heaven.

"The sanctuary is closing," a voice says behind Gerard as he straightens up, and he jumps.

"We were just on our way out," Gerard says with a smile. "I've been visiting places dedicated to Francis all over the world recently and figured since I was here, I should visit the Mission too."

"What a lovely pilgrimage," the priest says. "Perhaps, if you can come back earlier in the day..."

"I will next time," Gerard says, clutching the carving in his pocket. Ray is pacing near the entrance. "Thank you," he tells the priest and he and Mikey catch up with Ray.

They hurry out of the building. Frank meets them at the edge of the wards - or, where they used to be, Gerard guesses - and holds out his hand. "So strange that something I haven't seen in a hundred years is still so fucking familiar."

A dark figure separates from the corner of the building and proves to be Kat. "Grant's watching from the steps of the basilica. Where's James?"

Just then, they hear a distant shout and the sound of a scuffle. "Demons. They don't have powers, right?" Ray asks.

"No," Frank murmurs.

"Okay then." Ray pushes up his sleeves and strides off.

"Fuck!" Frank spits out. "Kat, I've got this. Go help the others." He turns to Gerard and Mikey. "Okay, I need you two to not let anyone near me for about a minute. Hopefully no one will get close enough." Finally he looks in Grant's direction, then back at the object in his hands. He kneels in the dirt and sets it down in front of him, sketching symbols in the dust and muttering.

Gerard scans the park nervously. It's getting dark. Then a figure starts moving towards them from the street. "Um, there's someone coming toward us and it doesn't look like any of our people," Gerard says. Frank nods, but doesn't stop his muttering.

"Shit, I haven't been in a fight since that one time in the bar three years ago," Mikey says. Gerard swallows, but a figure moves to intercept the intruder.

"Daniel," Grant roars. "You've trespassed for the last time."

"I'm on public property, Grant. I'll go anywhere I choose," Daniel retorts. Grant stands firm in front of him and when he goes to move around Grant, Grant reaches out and throws him back forcefully.

"No, you won't. Not around mine, and not ever again."

Frank keeps chanting. Gerard looks back and forth between Frank and Grant. Grant's fingers are glowing faintly, redly, and whatever Frank is doing is charging the air like a fucking lightning strike.

The demon named Daniel hisses and squares with Grant. "Gerard, to me," Grant says tightly. Gerard takes a step forward and gasps at a stab of pain in his hand. "Sorry," Grant says before pressing Gerard's hand into his own chest and saying a few words. Gerard gasps and feels briefly like he's caught on fire and Daniel simply vanishes.

Then there is a giant flash of light - like actual lightning, like a transformer blowing - and Mikey shouts, and a breath later Grant sags into Gerard's arms. He twists to look at Frank and sees Mikey dropping to his knees to catch him as he falls too. "Shit," Gerard murmurs and stumbles toward Frank and Mikey, supporting Grant's full weight. "C'mon, Grant. Need you to wake up now. I'm not gonna be able to fight anyone off for long if someone comes back." He feels Grant's hands tighten on his shoulders and braces his legs as Grant straightens, then sways.

"Bloody hell," he whispers. "What was that?"

"You fucking stabbed me," Gerard whispers.

"Not that," Grant says. "That was just a pinch anyway, to get a drop of blood. I mean - Frank -"

"He's fucking out of it," Mikey says. "Let's get back to the house."

Ray shows up then with Kat cradled in his arms. "That light - was that - she just passed out," he says. "Cameron's back there too but I couldn't carry them both."

"Fuck," Grant says. "Gerard, you stay with Frank. Ray and I will go see what we can do about the others."

Kat stirs almost as soon as Ray sits her down, and Mikey kneels in front of her to whisper to her. Gerard kneels next to Frank, smoothing his hair. "Frankie, wake up. We have to move," Gerard whispers. "Please." Frank mutters, but his eyes don't open. "C'mon, Frankie. Wake up." Gerard smooths Frank's hair back from his face and pats his cheek. "Frankie."

Frank's eyes fly open and he sits up. "Is everyone... what happened?"

"All of you passed out," Gerard says.

"There was a fucking shock wave of power when you destroyed the Key. Worse than the wards breaking," Kat murmurs. "I wasn't ready."

"Not surprising," Frank rasps. "I - feel different."

"Can you feel different at home?" Gerard asks. "That light is gonna have drawn some -" Yes, there are sirens in the distance. Frank struggles to stand and Gerard helps.

"Ugh. Let's agree to not fucking do that again," Kat grumbles.

"Where are the others?" Frank asks, looking around worriedly.

"Grant and Ray are collecting them," Gerard replies. "Let's go. If you all passed out, the demons did too. I think it'd be good if we're gone before they wake up."

A block away from the mission, they find Ray, Cameron's arm linked through his. Cameron looks woozy but he's walking.

Gerard's still flexing his hand. "Frank," Gerard says, "What the fuck did Grant do to Daniel?"

"I couldn't really see, but it felt like he banished him," Frank sighs. "The demons have their own spells for that, I always forget. I hope he's all right."

"Grant or Daniel?"

"Fuck Daniel," Frank grits.

"Grant seemed okay when he left to go get everyone," Gerard says.

"He should be just behind us. We found Vince and he seemed okay, so they were going to find James. He baited one of the other demons away," Ray explains. They're just turning the corner onto Frank's block when someone hails them.

It's Vince and Grant, with their arms around James. It seems strange for a moment before Gerard realizes - they're touching now. Of course. Frank makes a little noise, but they all keep moving. Stopping on the street looking bedraggled and beat up is never a good plan.

"The demons still passed out?" Frank asks in a businesslike tone when they get close enough.

"The one who jumped me is sleeping it off in an alley," Vince says. "And I'm sure James took care of the other one."

"And Daniel?" Frank says, eyes traveling over Grant as he unlocks his front door.

"He'd earned some special treatment. I spent most of the flight working out the wording of that spell. But you took out the Gate right after - so I suppose it was my grand finale."

Of course. Because the key going supernova had taken all their powers, Gerard realizes. He inspects the small, neat cut on his hand again. Grant's right, it was barely more than a prick. "They won't come back here anyway when they wake up? They know where the house is."

"James and I enhanced the sigils on the house as soon as we got here," Kat says. "They'll never find it again. Or us. We're mortals now anyway. No different than any of the other eight hundred thousand people in the Bay Area." She sounds pretty confident and it soothes most of Gerard's worries.

They file inside. Gerard expects Grant or Frank to grab the other at any moment, but neither makes a move. "Anyone need the first aid kit or ice packs or Advil or anything?" Frank asks.

"A drink," Vince says wearily.

"A shower," James adds.

"Coffee," Kat and Mikey both say. And then they're all dispersing, Cameron and Ray too. It's not the most subtle thing Gerard has ever seen. He almost feels like he should disappear too. Coffee does sound good. And he's not the one who hasn't touched either of them in a thousand years. But when he moves to maybe follow Kat and Mikey into the kitchen, Frank catches his hand and holds tight enough to hurt. "No, stay."

 

***

 

Frank holds tight to Gerard's hand like it's a lifeline, listening to Kat and Mikey clatter around in the kitchen. It's so strange that he can't feel any of them; he feels physically drained and mentally blunted, so used to the encroachment of his powers even after just a few months that now that they're gone... more than gone.... He's mortal. But his mortal senses are more than enough to overwhelm him, because while he's clutching Gerard's hand, he has eyes for nothing but Grant. And Grant is just standing across the room, waiting. Staring, but waiting.

A thousand years and they can finally touch and Frank feels like he's rooted to the spot. He's never been so utterly terrified to take four steps. He almost wishes he'd had more time, that his guests weren't quite so self-sufficient so he could still be getting people things. "Grant," he hears himself whisper.

"Yes, love," Grant answers softly. "Must I come to you?"

"I think yes," he says shakily, and that's all it takes. Grant steps closer, hands settling on Frank's shoulders - no pain - and his mouth drifting down to cover Frank's - no pain, so much pleasure he can barely think. He curls his arms around Grant's neck and holds on tight.

They finally pull back gasping for breath, foreheads resting against each other. "I... fuck," Frank breathes. He's pretty sure he's crying, if only because Gerard makes a low sound of distress beside him. Frank reaches out a hand and pulls Gerard close.

Grant moves his hands to cup Frank's cheeks. He swipes his thumbs under Frank's eyes. "I love you," Grant whispers.

"I love you too. Forever," Frank answers. Grant laughs, and Frank looks quizzically at him. "What's so funny?"

"Forever," Grant says. "I can stand forever now. You made us mortal too, you darling boy."

"I... what? I'm so sorry. That wasn't supposed to happen. I... fuck, I'm so sorry."

"Why? Forever without you held no appeal, love." Grant leans in. "I'll take what I can get."

"But Vince and Cameron? I... I can't have your family hating me," Frank says.

"Frank. All three of us realized it was a possibility before we left today," Grant explains. "We had powers because of you. It stood to reason that whatever happened to you three would also happen to us."

"I never thought -" Frank can't think, not with Grant touching him.

"You saved me," Grant whispers, shifting Frank's hand to his side where the scar is. "You bound us together with your grace. Like with Gerard." Gerard seems to startle a bit when he hears his name.

"And we're all here together because of you, beautiful," Grant murmurs and leans in to kiss Gerard.

Frank watches Gerard sink into it and thinks, My mistake. I should have done that from the first. "Gerard," he says, cuddling closer and whispering in his ear. "This would have never happened without you. We can all be together now because of you."

Gerard breaks Grant's kiss and turns to Frank. "I want that," he says fiercely and kisses him. Frank can feel every spot Grant is touching him just as distinctly as he feels Gerard's tongue against his. Grant moves behind him, and Frank practically sobs as he feels Grant's lips against the back of his neck, that spot he seems so fond of on Gerard. Frank realizes the mental connection his grace had made is broken now. He'll never dream Gerard's memories or feel the ghosts of Grant's touches again. But they'll make new memories. And he'll feel Grant's hands himself.

"Let's go upstairs," he gasps. "I need... fuck, I need you both so much." Gerard kisses him one more time and then pulls back, turning to the stairs. Frank is halted by Grant's hand.

"No regrets?" Grant whispers.

"Never," Frank replies. "I couldn't. Not when I can do this." He slides his hand into Grant's and laces their fingers together. He tugs, and Grant follows him obediently up the stairs to the third floor.

Gerard has the lamps on and is sitting on the foot of the bed waiting when they get into the room. Grant wraps himself around Frank and they both stare at Gerard. "What is it?" he says, sounding nervous.

"We're just appreciating you, love," Grant murmurs. Gerard beams.

"How about you appreciate me closer up?"

Frank climbs into his lap without any further invitation, cupping Gerard's face in his hands and kissing him again. Trusting that Grant won't be able to resist stepping up behind him and - yes, there are his hands. There is his hard body pressed against Frank's back. He has to pause for a moment to just bask in how they both feel against him.

When he pulls back, he reaches for the buttons of Gerard's shirt. "Need your skin."

"And I yours," Grant whispers in his ear.

"Then make it happen," Frank tells him. Grant pulls Frank's jacket down his shoulders and tugs his shirts up over his head as Frank works on Gerard's buttons. Grant runs his hands over Frank's skin, pausing at each tattoo and tracing over the lines.

"So many years of wondering," Grant says.

Frank leans back against Grant, just to feel him. "I need your skin too."

"Get up there with Gerard and I'll join you," Grant suggests smoothly.

Gerard squirms out from under Frank, unbuttoning his jeans and and shoving them down his hips as he moves up the bed. Frank moves after him, struggling briefly with his own pants before sliding on top of Gerard. "Stop teasing," Gerard whispers in his ear. "I want to see you with him. I know you want it."

Frank kisses Gerard hard. "We want you to participate too."

"Duh," Gerard replies. "What do you think I'm doing, baby?" he whispers. "I'm directing."

Frank laughs and when Grant gets on the bed behind him, Frank rolls over and slides his hands over Grant's chest and down to the scar. He is never, ever going to stop touching Grant now that he can. Grant sprawls on his back and lets him, tucking his hands behind his head and watching as Frank explores. When Frank keeps returning to the scar, he makes a small noise. "I spent a long time feeling guilty about this," Frank says and leans down to brush his lips over the scar. He lifts his head to smile ruefully at Grant. "And now I feel guilty for being glad of it."

"I can't imagine why you'd be guilty, but if you insist, I can think of a few ways you can make amends, my boy. My boy who doesn't know his own power," Grant teases.

"Didn't know my power. Don't have any anymore. And I never will again," Frank says and kisses his way up Grant's belly. "Gonna miss the wings, though." He can't help the little sigh that escapes him at the thought. He loved his wings.

Grant tugs him up into his arms. "I'll make you fly, love. As long as I can." Frank laughs and kisses him.

"I'll hold you to that."

"And I realize that airplanes are a pale substitute, but I'm taking you to my house in Scotland at some point too," Grant adds. "I've grown rather attached to the place."

"It's beautiful," Gerard says from beside him.

"I haven't traveled properly in so many years," Frank says. "Not for fun."

"I love it here too," Gerard tells him. "I already told Mikey I was staying. If that's -"

"Yes," Frank says immediately. "Please. Both of you. And I want to visit Jersey again and definitely Scotland."

"Is there anything else you want to do?" Grant asks, sounding excessively patient. Frank laughs. They're naked and they're talking about traveling.

"Whatever I do, I'm making it last the rest of the night," Frank promises.

Grant laughs and pulls him down for a kiss. "And I'll hold you to that."

"We've had to get by on just talking for a thousand years," Frank points out. "Apparently that's a hard habit to break."

The longer Frank looks into Grant's eyes, the more real it all seems. He feels them all grow quiet. He leans in and kisses Grant again. This time, Grant rolls him onto his back, covers Frank's body with his, and kisses him until neither of them can breathe.

"Tell me what I can do," Grant says. "Anything, I'll do anything."

Frank moans. That tone of voice will be the end of him. "And I want everything."

"We have the rest of our lives for everything," Grant says. "What do you want now?"

"I want that mouth of yours. That clever mouth." Frank stares into his eyes, sees Grant's go dark and intent. He kisses his way down Frank's chest. He pays special attention to the birds, much like Gerard did. It makes Frank's breath catch that those little figures he's been doodling all over the world for hundreds of years is what brought them all together. But Grant pays more attention.

"An angel and a devil?" he whispers.

"It was always about you and me," Frank murmurs and runs his fingers gently over Grant's head.

"It will always be," Grant says, kissing Frank's hips so gently. Frank reaches out for Gerard's hand.

"And you," he murmurs. Gerard curls up next to him, but Frank's eyes slip closed on a moan as Grant closes his lips around Frank's cock. He swirls his tongue around the head and brings a hand up to massage Frank's balls. "Fuck," Frank moans. Gerard sucks Frank's earlobe into his mouth and he moans again.

Grant is so good with his mouth. Too good; Frank can barely spare a thought to touch, to speak. Grant swallows around him and Gerard mouths at his jaw. He's not going to last. It's Grant and Grant's fucking mouth and he's only one person. His hips start snapping up into Grant's mouth and Grant takes him in and moves with his every thrust.

Gerard whispers praise in his ear. "You're so beautiful, so strong. I want to see your face, Frankie, your face when you come in his mouth." Frank opens his eyes and turns his face toward Gerard's. Gerard gently pulls his lip from between his teeth with his thumb and leans in to kiss him briefly. "Make him come, Grant," Gerard murmurs.

Grant picks up his pace, joining his hand to his mouth, and Frank is soon arching helplessly, gasping with every squeeze and every flick of Grant's tongue, calling out his name on a gasp as he comes.

"So good," Frank gasps. Grant slides up Frank's body and kisses him. He tastes like Frank, like himself. It's completely intoxicating. "Love you, love you," Frank chants in his ear when Grant pulls back.

"Love you," Grant answers, burying his face in Frank's neck. "With everything I am."

Frank wraps his arms around Grant's neck and clings. He doesn't want to let go, but he can feel how hard Grant is against his belly, and Gerard against his hip. "What do you want to do now, baby?" he asks Gerard, cupping his cheek.

"I want Grant to fuck me," he replies. "And I want you to touch us both while he does it."

Frank can feel Grant's hips shift under his, cock twitching. "Gerard," Grant whispers. "Ride me."

Gerard moans and kisses Frank, then Grant, and stretches to grab the lube from the nightstand. "Want your fingers, Frankie," Gerard says. Frank takes the lube from him. Gerard straddles Grant's thighs and Frank moves behind him, running a hand over his shoulders and down his back. He runs his hands over Grant's thighs, too, because he can. He slicks his fingers and slides two slowly inside Gerard, who moans and throws his head back against Frank's shoulder.

"Sometime, some other time it'll be me inside you," Frank tells him. "Making you feel as good as you made me feel this morning."

Gerard moans. "Yes. Want you so much." Frank kisses his cheek and thrusts his fingers. "More," Gerard begs.

Frank adds a finger. He hooks his chin over Gerard's shoulder to look at Grant. "Get yourself ready too, love." Frank hands him the lube; Grant pops the cap, gets some on his fingers and strokes his cock a few times. "Wanna watch you get yourself off. Wanted to ask so many times, but I was knew it wouldn't be enough."

"I'll do anything you want, angel," Grant whispers. "Anything at any time." Frank takes a deep breath and nuzzles Gerard before reaching for Grant. It's kind of miraculous that he can now. He nudges Gerard forward and takes hold of Grant's cock. Grant makes a broken little noise that sounds like Frank's name. Frank takes hold of Gerard's hip and guides him back and down.

Gerard sinks down slowly, but without hesitation. When he has Grant all the way in, Frank circles the stretched skin of Gerard's ass with his fingers and drops a kiss on his shoulder. Gerard circles his hips a little, and Frank crawls back up to Grant. He nuzzles Grant's cheek and Grant turns to capture Frank's lips with his. Frank closes his eyes and slides his tongue into Grant's mouth. Gerard starts moving, but Frank's mouth muffles all Grant's noises of pleasure.

Frank reaches out blindly and wraps a hand around Gerard's cock. Gerard moans and Frank smiles against Grant's mouth. It's enough for him to feel them shift against one another, to hear their noises. Grant pulls back and grabs Gerard's hips. He thrusts up hard and Frank strokes Gerard's cock in time with him. He leans up on his elbow so he can bend down to suck Grant's nipple. Gerard leans down and swirls his tongue around the other. Grant murmurs something, and eventually it gets clear: "I love you, I love you," he says.

"Love you," Gerard gasps and leans over to kiss Frank. It's sloppy and they only just avoid clanking teeth. Frank doesn't care. It's Gerard's mouth against his, their bodies touching his at various points. He feels Gerard moan, strokes him faster and milks him through his orgasm.

Gerard collapses down against Grant's chest and Grant thrusts up three more times and comes with a moan. He wraps one arm around Gerard and grasps Frank's hand. Frank lays his head on Grant's shoulder and runs his fingers through Gerard's hair. He isn't sure for how long. He doesn't care either. Gerard sits up and pulls off, but collapses back down on top of Grant.

"Don't wanna move," he whispers. Frank laughs and kisses his cheek, then Grant's.

"I'll get up and get some washcloths." He slips on the robe he has hanging on a hook by the door. He looks back over his shoulder and meets Grant's eyes. "I said all night," he whispers. "I meant it." He may not be able to get hard again right away, but sleep has no appeal when he can be touching Grant.

Grant smiles softly back at him. "Yes, of course."

Frank slips down the stairs and wets two washcloths in the bathroom sink. He pauses on the landing, though, and heads down instead of back up. The house is quiet, but he wants to check the locks. Vince is leaning against the archway to the living room when he looks up. "Sorry," Frank says. "Didn't mean to wake anyone."

"You didn't," Vince replies quietly. "I really am glad, you know. Cameron and I try, but he's been very lonely."

"So have I," Frank answers. "So have I. Never again. Even if I must take him from you for part of the year. Winters, maybe."

Vince steps forward and clasps his shoulders. "We are family again, Frank. It will all sort out. This is a rather minor thing to sort, all told. Now get the fuck back up there." His eyes are sparkling. People think Vince is the quiet one, but deep down he's just as incorrigible as Grant.

"Yes, sir," Frank murmurs with a smile; Vince pats his cheek. Frank takes the stairs two at a time, grabs the washcloths from the counter in the bathroom, and runs the rest of the way up.

Gerard and Grant haven't moved. Grant's eyes glitter in the dim room, and Frank gives him a soft smile as he climbs back on the bed and tends to them both. Gerard moves off to Grant's side blinking sleepily. Grant pulls the covers over him and strokes a hand through his hair. Frank settles on his other side, hand on his chest.

"I went downstairs for a moment to make sure everything was okay," he whispers. "Vince gave us his blessing, I think. Well, me anyway. Can former demons even give blessings, I wonder?"

"I think the 'former' is the key there," Grant murmurs. "And I'm surprised he didn't just come out and order you to come up here and climb back into bed."

"He kind of did," Frank admits. Gerard shifts at Grant's side and Frank looks to see his mouth open and eyes closed. "He's asleep," Frank whispers and smiles at Grant.

"That he is," Grant replies.

"And you? I can't even count how many hours you've been awake."

"Not ready for sleep yet," Grant murmurs. "I want to keep touching you and I want to be aware of every single fucking moment."

"So touch me," Frank invites. Grant slides a hand over his cheek and into his hair. He uses the other to trace the lines of Frank's face, over his eyebrows, his nose, the corners of his mouth.

"You are perfect," Grant tells him. "Every time I look at you I'm as dumbstruck as the first time I saw you."

"You frightened me the first time," Frank admits. "But for none of the reasons I probably should have been scared."

Grant laughs and leans in for a kiss. "I'd never have known. You were fierce as hell, and beautiful as heaven. I couldn't resist."

"Neither of us could." Frank leans in for another kiss and Grant tugs him up so he's closer, half on top of Grant, really. "I love you," Frank whispers and kisses him again.

"So much," Grant answers.

They run their hands over each other's bodies and kiss. After a while, Grant turns him over on his back and takes a tour of his tattoos. He laughs about a few, lingers over a few others. He's particularly thorough with Our Lady of Sorrows, tracing over the blades with excruciating gentleness. Frank quietly explains any tattoo if he asks, but Grant doesn't ask about those. Grant knows Frank's sorrows as well as he does. His voice gets tired after a while, but Grant seems content with wordless noises of pleasure, too, and keeps stroking gently over his skin.

Gerard wakes up with a yawn and a smile and joins them with mouth and hands. They bring each other off again, this time slow, less frantic. Frank doesn't get out of bed this time, just drapes himself over Grant's chest and finally lets himself fall asleep.

They don't sleep long. Frank wakes up to the smell of coffee. He tries to sneak downstairs, but the other two wake up despite his efforts. They're bleary-eyed, but unwilling to let him get up by himself.

Cameron is sitting at the kitchen table, with Kat pouring them both cups of coffee. Frank squeezes his shoulder idly as he walks by. It's not until Cameron's head snaps up that he realizes how remarkable that was. Frank just smiles at him. "Since you are the ones in here, you get to pick breakfast."

"Your breakfast burritos would be good," Kat says hopefully, and lets Frank steal a sip of her coffee.

Grant slips an arm around his waist while Gerard heads for the coffee pot. "'M never gonna get breakfast made," Frank murmurs and leans against Grant with a contented sigh.

"I'm sorry. I just don't want to stop," Grant replies.

"Me either," Frank replies. Cameron makes an exaggerated gagging face and Frank flips him off with a grin. After a minute, he forces himself to pull away and get all the ingredients together. The sooner he finishes, the sooner he can be back in Grant's arms. Gerard brings him coffee and kisses his cheek before stealing his spot with Grant. Kat promises to go check on the others, and Frank gets to cooking.

Once he gets started, everything comes together fast. By the time he's done, everyone is gathered in the kitchen and another pot of coffee is brewing. James has a pretty spectacular black eye and Ray's got some red knuckles, but they all seem to have made it through intact.

"I guess that's our last big adventure," Cameron says through a mouthful of burrito.

"Of course not," Grant answers easily. "Life is an adventure."

Cameron rolls his eyes, but he's smiling. "Yes, Dumbledore," Frank says. Grant laughs.

"I don't think I could carry off that beard."

"Your neighbors already think you're a wizard," Vince points out.

"Not me," Grant says with a grin. "I'm just an ordinary man."

Gerard laughs from the kitchen table, where he's making lists of places to visit with Ray and Mikey. "Never ordinary."

"Perhaps not," Grant replies. "But then I don't think a single person in this room could be called ordinary."

"You came to the right place, then," Frank tells him. Grant pulls him down into the empty chair beside him.

"We all have everything we need," he murmurs. "Sit. Eat with us."

Frank laces their fingers together. Eating a breakfast burrito one-handed probably isn't a good idea, but he's going to try.

"Are you sure you don't want me to come with you?" Frank asks Gerard after breakfast, when he and Mikey and Ray are getting ready to go out and explore. "I don't want to be a bad -"

"James is coming with us," Gerard says. "We'll only be gone a few hours. And you are a great host. And you're tired. Go rest." He punctuates the order with a gentle kiss. Frank kisses back and squeezes his hands.

"Have fun. Call if you get lost."

"We will," Gerard promises and leans over the back of the couch to kiss Grant before heading out the door.

When Frank finally sits down next to Grant on the couch, he knows staying was the right decision. He's suddenly exhausted. Grant wraps an arm around his shoulders and pulls him close. "I am going to sleep on you now," Frank tells him.

"I don't mind," he murmurs and Frank feels Grant's lips on his temple. He closes his eyes and lets the rumble of Grant's voice as he talks to Kat, Vince, and Cameron about art soothe him into sleep.

*

Frank marks the passing of a year since the fight at the mission, a year since the destruction of the key, with no fanfare. Time moves as swiftly as ever, but every day is precious now. Especially since he has Grant and Gerard. Gerard had taken no more than a month to arrange for his possessions to be shipped to San Francisco, but they've been traveling to Grant's frequently, and today they're packing to go there one more time.

They just spent the weekend visiting Kat and James in Los Angeles. Kat's been working hard to expand her business, and James is still writing music, though this time he seems to be considering actually getting a touring band together. Today Frank and Gerard go to Scotland for a few weeks' vacation - and to close up Grant's house. Frank's restaurant opens soon, and Grant has promised to relocate for the long term until things are running smoothly. He's gone ahead of them to take care of some business - he's only been gone a week or so but Frank misses him desperately.

The flight from San Francisco is interminable. Frank has some articles about food trucks to read, courtesy of Ray - he's already thinking way ahead. "The man with the plan," Frank likes to call him. Gerard has his headphones on most of the time - Mikey made him a travel mix - and he sleeps for a while but gets particularly cranky in the last hour of the flight to Heathrow. Frank tries to ignore it - he is more antsy about the two hour layover they have before getting a much shorter flight to Glasgow. It's all worth it when they arrive, though. Grant is waiting with open arms and a promise of a hot meal at home courtesy of Cameron and Vince.

Frank cares a lot more about the open arms. It had taken weeks before he'd been willing to sit more than an arm's length away from Grant. Even now he prefers Grant's arms to any other place in the world. Except Gerard's arms, of course. Frank sits in the front seat and holds Grant's hand over the gearshift. Gerard leans forward in the backseat and chatters about the trip, the show he and Frank went to, all the things Grant already knows, but it's still nice to be able to say them in person. Frank's happy when they pull up in front of Grant's old mansion. It's one of his favorite places in the world and he's going to miss coming here as often as they used to do.

Cameron and Vince are both inside, as promised, an elaborate meal already spread in the dining room. "Not home cooked," Grant says in his ear. "This kitchen needs you for that."

Frank laughs. "Anything sounds better than airport food right now." Frank gives Vince and Cameron hugs and they settle down to eat. Grant is attentive; he seems disappointed to only have two hands. If he's not touching Gerard, he's touching Frank.

"Missed us, did you?" Frank whispers during dessert, while Gerard and Vince chat.

"More than I ever thought possible," Grant replies softly. "I am no longer accustomed to missing you."

"I know the restaurant is my own choice, but I still wish it wasn't such a sacrifice for you."

"I've owned this house for centuries," Grant says. "I'll survive some time away. I wouldn't say the same of being away from you." Frank squeezes his hand and leans in for a kiss.

"I'm going to miss this place too," Frank murmurs when he pulls back.

"You'll be wildly successful and be able to leave again before you know it," Grant says confidently.

"Glad you think so," Frank says, leaning back in. He nuzzles; Grant sighs and leans harder against him. Even now, a year later, the fact that they can touch is still something of a miracle to them. Frank is abruptly ready for their guests to be gone so he can be way more fucking thorough with his touches.

Cameron smirks from the other side of the table and starts collecting plates. "Guess it's time to clean up. Aren't you lucky to have such helpful friends, Grant?"

Grant laughs. "I am, indeed."

Even after clearing the table and cleaning up, it's still about half an hour until Vince and Cameron get out the door. Frank doesn't actually mind too much. They're family. When Grant finally shuts the door behind them, Gerard is wrapped around Frank, his head leaning against Frank's shoulder. Grant studies them both for a moment. "Gorgeous," he says.

"You are," Gerard says. "We missed you so fucking much. We rattle around the house like ghosts while you're gone." Grant smiles and steps forward.

"I'm sure you found ways to occupy yourself. In fact, my email inbox proves you did."

Frank laughs. Gerard is the one responsible for the naughty emails, but Frank has to admit he hadn't been at all discouraging. "What was your favorite?" He asks.

"Mmm. They were all... inspiring. I particularly enjoyed the one in which you fucked Gerard over the kitchen table," Grant says and steps close enough to kiss both of them. Frank grins against Grant's mouth.

"Tell me more," he whispers.

"I didn't even make it to the bedroom," Grant murmurs. "I wanked in front of the computer like a teenager watching thirty second porn clips."

"And what did you think about when you did?" Gerard asks, kissing Grant's jaw and twisting his fingers through Frank's hair.

"Oh, many things. Thought about watching, about being the one fucking you, about Frank fucking me," Grant says. Frank makes a little noise, and Grant touches his lips. "I missed you so," he whispers.

"Because you're mine," Frank replies.

"Because I am yours," Grant murmurs. "Remind me how it feels."

Frank tips his head back to kiss Gerard's cheek and takes Grant's hand. "Upstairs. As much fun as fucking Gerard over the kitchen table was, I think my back wouldn't appreciate a repeat performance."

"So hard to be mortal," Gerard teases him.

"And I'd choose mortality every single day since it means I get the two of you," Frank replies.

"You can have the two of us tonight, if you think you can last that long," Gerard challenges. Frank catches his hips and pulls him close.

"I can last that fucking long," Frank whispers in his ear. "Can you?"

"I'll make sure I do," Gerard promises.

"Good," Frank says and they make their way upstairs.

They pause on the landing and kiss again. This is one of Frank's favorite spots in the house when the sun is shining through the stained glass. Right now, though, he's ready to be in their bed. There, as in everything else Grant has put into this house, there is comfort enough to be decadence. Frank has come far enough that he's glad of it, not guilty.

The occasional dark mood still settles on Grant or Gerard. Frank has them too, but never enough to make him regret his choices. And just now, he's as far from regret as possible. He's full of joy. He knows the others are as well. It's more than just being reunited. It's everything in his life. After he stopped building bridges, the thing he loved most was being a chef. But he couldn't continue as long as he wanted because there's no way to explain why you aren't aging. And now he's doing it again with the support of all the people he loves most.

"Look at him," Gerard stage whispers to Grant. "He's thinking about the restaurant again. He has that gooey look on his face."

"Fuck you," Frank says with a laugh and slings his arms around both of them. "I'm really fucking excited."

Grant laughs and tows him the rest of the way upstairs. "Here's a good spot to work off some excitement, love," he says, and directs Frank's hands to his shirt collar. Frank smiles and unbuttons his shirt. He leans forward to kiss the bare skin of his chest before reaching for Grant's wrists to unbutton his cuffs.

"Are you ready for me?" Frank asks sweetly, smoothing the fabric down and tonguing one of Grant's nipples.

"I'm always ready for you," Grant replies breathlessly.

"Get your trousers off and get on the bed," Frank murmurs and turns to Gerard. "What about you, baby? Got your second wind yet? "

"I'm off that fucking plane. I'm good," Gerard replies and tugs Frank's shirt up over his head. Frank helps him with the fastenings of his jeans, then turns his fingers to Gerard, not stopping until they're both naked. Grant is waiting, propped against the headboard of his bed.

Gerard sits on the edge of the bed. "Fuck, I love you both so much," Frank says.

"So fuck us," Gerard says with a smirk. Frank pounces, taking him down into the pillows next to Grant, pinning him there and covering his neck and chest with kisses and love bites. Gerard laughs loud and free, wraps his arms around Frank, and lifts his chin to give Frank better access. He really fucking loves it when they pay attention to his neck. Loves seeing marks from them.

Frank can feel Grant's fingers stroking through his hair. "Who's first?" he whispers, knowing Grant likes to watch him mark Gerard up every bit as much as he loves doing it himself.

"Me," Gerard says immediately.

"So greedy," Frank teases.

"You're not an angel anymore, no need to lecture about deadly sins," Gerard says with a mock pout.

"Especially not to an ex-priest?" Grant asks, amused.

"I was never one for lectures anyway," Frank says. "Not when I was always misbehaving myself." He bites gently at the slight pudge of Gerard's stomach. Gerard is trying very hard to hold his hips still, and Frank laughs, then sits up and gets some lube. He doesn't bother with fingers, not with Gerard. He slicks himself up and stares down at Gerard. "On your knees," he murmurs.

Gerard turns over and pushes up on his knees. He leans down to kiss Grant and Grant wraps a hand around the back of his neck and holds him there. Frank takes the opportunity to line up and push in as slow as he can go. Gerard moans. Frank smiles and grabs onto his hips, tugging until he's settled balls-deep and Gerard is twitching back against him.

Frank starts thrusting. He's going to have to be careful, because Gerard feels fucking incredible around him and he's going to have a hard time not coming. He bends over and presses his chest to Gerard's back, his lips to Grant's hand where he's still holding Gerard, and reaches around to take Gerard's cock in hand. He finds Grant's hand already there, and he smiles and kisses Grant's other hand again, thrusts a little harder.

Gerard moans and thrusts into their twin grip, and Frank moves with him. When Grant touches his lips, Frank sucks a finger into his mouth. Grant moans and Frank sucks harder as he thrusts. "Ohhhhh," Gerard groans and thrusts harder back against Frank, harder into their hands.

Frank shifts his angle, hits Gerard's prostate and keeps thrusting, letting Grant control their linked fingers as Gerard rocks back and moans. He can tell when Gerard gets close by the way his muttered words turn to gasps and moans. Frank bites his lip hard, hoping it will help distract him. Gerard's back arches. Grant's mouth muffles his cry, but Frank can feel him coming, grits his teeth and breathes out through his nose, pulls out as soon as Gerard stills.

He sits back on his heels and pants for a minute. He reaches out and strokes his hands over Gerard's ass and thighs, kisses the little dips at the small of his back. Gerard hums with pleasure and stretches out at Grant's side, licking lazily at Grant's fingers. Frank swallows. Fuck, the two of them are incredible. He moves over, leans down to kiss Grant's knee and up his thigh.

Grant is watching him, deceptively lazy in his naked sprawl. His cock tells the true story, hard and red and leaking against his belly. Frank mouths at the base, flicking his tongue over the veins of the shaft, up to the slit. "Taste so good," Frank murmurs. He swirls his tongue around the head and gets his fingers slick again, traces back behind Grant's balls.

Grant murmurs his name and Frank slips the first finger inside him. He'd thought, at first, that nothing could ever feel as good as taking Grant's cock inside him. That was before the first time Grant had trembled under his hands and begged for the reverse.

Frank adds another finger and kisses Grant's hip and thrusts them until he feels Grant's fingers tug his hair. "Ask, love," Frank says. "I'll do my best to fuck you into the mattress, unless you want to see my face."

Grant moans. "Impossible choice." Frank crooks his fingers and Grant's hips come off the mattress. "I want your face. Your mouth," Grant finally gasps out.

He gets Frank's face, but not his eyes, not right away. Frank has to shut them tight, barely breathing as he pushes Grant's thighs wide and thrusts inside him. "Grant," Frank whispers and finally manages to open his eyes. Grant's mouth is open and he's breathing hard.

"Wish you could see your faces," Gerard says. "You're so fucking gorgeous like this."

"He's always beautiful," Grant breathes.

"So are you," Frank tells him, shifting carefully to lean down and kiss him. They kiss and kiss, tongues and lips and teeth all moving together until Grant rolls his hips and Frank has to pull back to moan. "You gotta help me last, love," Frank pants. "Let me - let me -"

Grant gets a grip on his hair and pulls his head back down. "Just kiss me." Frank does, for a long time. He feels Gerard's hand rubbing up and down his back. Gerard uses his other hand to grab their chins and steal kisses for himself.

Small movements of his hips send sparks of sensation through Frank's groin but let him retreat from the edge, and Grant is still hard and leaking between their bellies, but seems content with kisses until Frank is ready for more. He lets his lips wander down Grant's jaw to his neck. He starts sucking a mark there as he finally begins moving his hips.

"I've spent so much of my life dreaming of this," Grant says. Frank kisses his neck gently. He has too. But if Grant is still speaking in complete sentences, Frank can be pushing Grant harder. He snaps his hips forward and speeds up his thrusts. He feels Grant's deep moan in his chest.

"Can you come without a hand on you, love?" Frank whispers in his ear.

"You know I can," Grant replies.

"Good," Frank replies and thrusts harder. He wraps his lips around one of Grant's nipples and sucks. That earns him another moan, and he lifts a hand to pluck at the other with his fingers, riding the arch of Grant's back, bracing himself and returning his mouth to Grant's collarbones, the hollow of his throat. Gerard's hands are there too, stroking through Frank's hair, over Grant's chest. It's overwhelming. Frank sucks hard over Grant's Adam's apple and rolls his hips up hard into Grant.

"Please," Grant begs.

"Any time," Frank murmurs against his throat, thrusting fast and even. "Any time you want to come, do it, my heart. Let me feel you."

Frank keeps thrusting, keeps his mouth on Grant. His thighs are getting tired, but he doesn't care. Finally, Grant moans Frank's name brokenly and Frank feels him clench around his cock. It's enough. He groans and mumbles his love, pressing his forehead into Grant's neck and coming - coming hard and long.

He finally lets himself relax fully on Grant's chest, leaving a tiny line of kisses down his throat. Grant's arms circle him and Frank sighs happily. Gerard's fingers are still moving lazily over their skin, through Frank's hair. Frank opens his eyes and looks at Gerard. "Love you," he whispers.

"I know," Gerard replies. "And I love you."

Frank still feels the loss, sometimes, of the dreams - the memories he and Gerard had shared. But having Gerard, having a future, is so much better. He knows Gerard feels the same. Knows it every time Gerard traces the outlines of his bird tattoos with his fingertips. He has Gerard to thank for bringing him Grant. And Gerard brought Frank his family, too.

His circle and his life have expanded in so many amazing ways in the last year. Being human is, so far, infinitely better than being an angel. And every time he misses his wings, Grant makes good on his promise to make Frank fly in other ways. Grant has made good on all his promises, but Frank only cares about one. Grant repeats it now, as Frank pulls out of his body and settles beside him.

"I will love you forever," he says.

"Forever," Frank echoes and kisses him.

"And you, beautiful," Grant tells Gerard.

Gerard smiles and leans his head on Grant's shoulder. "I know."

Frank closes his eyes and smiles against Grant's skin. They get three weeks of this and he intends to savor every moment. Shouldn't be hard; Frank intends to savor the rest of his life. His mortal life.