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In from the Cold

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The storm was howling outside like a hungry beast, probably one of those Lovecraftian monsters straight from nightmares. Gerard could probably draw it if Frank asked, and for a while he considered texting him the idea before remembering that Lindsey was visiting this weekend, which meant that horror creatures were probably lower on Gerard’s priority list than usual. Frank grinned to himself, giving his friend a silent thumbs up, and huddling deeper into his blankets. The weather was awful, but it was Friday night and he was home and warm, with enough pizza to feed a small army and season two of Daredevil on his Netflix queue. Life wasn’t perfect, but it was pretty damn good right about now.

Which obviously was when the doorbell rang.

Frank frowned. He wasn’t expecting anyone. Maybe it was the crazy guy from downstairs who tried to sell him weed, which on its own would’ve been fine except how those little baggies of his contained nothing but oregano. Another ear-splitting grind of the bell got Frank off the sofa and to the hallway, ancient woolly blanket still tucked around his shoulders.

Opening the door revealed a wet and bedraggled Mikey Way. Frank blinked at him and then mutely stepped aside, gesturing Mikey to enter.

“It’s raining,” Mikey said, pushing hair off his forehead with one hand, the other curled around his chest.

Frank rolled his eyes. “Yeah, no shit. What are you doing out in it then?”

Mikey shrugged. “Lindsey’s visiting Gerard. So I’m visiting you.” He made it sound so natural, so completely reasonable, that Frank didn’t even catch the connotations – the parallels – until he was halfway to the bathroom.

“Oh,” Frank said and had to force his feet to keep moving, grabbing the towel off the hook and walking back to the hallway whilst trying to convince himself that Mikey did not mean it the way it sounded. Did he?

“Is that okay?” Mikey asked, catching the towel Frank threw at him one-handedly. Sure his face was hidden by folds of fabric, as he was trying to pat himself dry, but Frank still got the distinct impression that Mikey was avoiding his eyes.

However, before he had a chance to think about that further, or even to answer the question, Mikey’s jacket suddenly bulged and roiled like he was in an imminent danger of a chestburster, and Frank took an alarmed step back.

“What the fuck?” he said and then swallowed a startled scream when something did push past the buttons of Mikey’s coat, something dark and wriggly and… furry? Something that opened its tiny pink mouth and let out the most pathetic meow Frank had heard in his life.

“It’s a cat,” Mikey explained, somewhat belatedly. “A kitten really,” he added, looking like including such level of detail was physically paining him.

“Well, I can see that,” Frank said, glaring at Mikey. It was impossible to glare at the kitten. The kitten was small and had matted fur and was visibly shivering. No one with a heart could glare at that. And Frank’s heart was already too soft for his own good, and most of the time hanging on his sleeve for all to see. “Why do you have a kitten?” he asked, already going to find another towel and mentally cataloguing the ingredients of his fridge to see if there was anything feline friendly.

“I found it,” Mikey said, trailing after him and depositing the kitten on the towel Frank had put on the bathroom tiles. “It was hiding in the corner of the bus shelter. I couldn’t just leave it there.” He looked pleadingly at Frank as they knelt on the floor to gently rub the cat dry.

Frank looked at Mikey, long limbs at awkward angles, eyelashes clumped together from the rain, something wary and hopeful in his expression, and then at the kitten who had started to furiously lick its fur, yellow eyes huge and serious.

“Of course you couldn’t,” Frank sighed. “Let’s get you both warm then.”