Actions

Work Header

A City Wall and a Trampoline

Work Text:

Frank flips his open sign over to closed, locks the door, and goes next door. Lindsey smiles from the register.

"Hey, punk," she says. "Here to mooch our coffee again?"

"Be nice to me. I got a bunch of art books I'm gonna give you and Jessicka first shot at," Frank fires back and hands his mug to Lindsey over the counter. Lindsey grimaces.

"I was gonna come talk to you about you buying some of mine, actually. I think I'm gonna need dental surgery."

"Shit," Frank says. "I mean, sure. But shit."

She nods miserably. "Woke up yesterday in a lot of pain, scrounged some money from my meager savings, and went to the dentist. Turns out I need a root canal. I definitely don't have that much in the bank."

"I made you something," Gerard says from his table, waving a piece of paper at Lindsey.

Frank goes to snag it and takes it back to the counter. It's a cartoon Lindsey with her hand over her mouth and a frowny face. "So romantic, Gee."

"Shut up, moocher. I love it," Lindsey says and beams at Gerard.

"Yeah, yeah." Frank writes carefully on the top of the drawing, Root Canal Fund and steals a piece of tape from behind the register to hang it on the tip jar. "See, you love me, too."

She rolls her eyes. "Yeah, yeah. Here's your coffee."

Frank takes his mug and sits across from Gerard. He kicks Gerard's shin lightly. "Whatcha working on?"

"Some fill-in stuff for DC, at the moment. Well, not this moment. I needed to get out and walk around for a while."

"And you ended up at your girlfriend's cafe, big surprise."

"You don't usually work this late, though, Frankie. What gives?" Gerard asks.

"James had to take Tallulah to the vet, so we traded. We're both working extra hours because of the signing this weekend anyway."

"She okay?" Gerard asks.

"Yeah, just regular check-up shit, and this was the best time," Frank says.

"And hey, you get to meet Grant," Gerard says with a bright, happy grin. Frank rolls his eyes. Gerard gushing about Grant is just a day ending in Y.

"More like, we rush around doing line control while he schmoozes."

"I'm sorry I can't be there," Gerard says with a frown. "But I booked this talk at SVA a while ago."

"It's cool. We'll just talk shit about you. Get all the Comic-Con dirt," Frank smirks.

"I am clean as clean can be," Gerard says primly. "Grant's the one with all the dirt. Oh, the stories I've heard..."

"Yeah, yeah, your boyfriend is awesome," Frank teases.

Gerard makes a face. "If I a. didn't already have a girlfriend, and b. liked dick, I so would."

"Poor you," Frank says.

"Poor him?" Lindsey says from the counter.

"I meant lucky!" Frank says hurriedly.

"Seriously, though, he's really great. You'll like him," Gerard says with a grin. "He's my favorite person in the business."

"You're not a great judge of character, sweetheart," Lindsey calls over. "You're friends with Frank, after all."

Frank just grins. If Lindsey wasn't giving him shit, he'd be worried. He is worried about the pained faces she keeps making, though. He goes over to tuck a twenty in the tip jar before he goes back to the bookstore. Jessicka sees him do it and blows him a kiss.

He goes back next door and makes a list of everything he needs to do before the signing. It's... a long fucking list. Involving a lot of dusting and organizing. Luckily Frank is really fucking good at that part of the job. James owes him. James owes him big. Probably Frank will foist the expense accounts on him for the month.

He gets busy cleaning and helping customers for the rest of the afternoon. He's glad he can keep busy because truth be told, he's pretty nervous to meet Grant fucking Morrison. Frank would never tell Gerard this, but Gerard is pretty much a genius. Grant Morrison... there's no pretty much. He just is. Frank is... not, and he's fine with that now. Comfortable being good at the things he's good at and working at the things that interest him that he isn't necessarily great at. But it's Grant Morrison.

"I sound like a broken record," he tells Faulkner, the bookstore cat.

Faulkner had come with the bookstore. It was in the buyers' agreement and everything. Frank had let James talk him into letting him stay - neither of them could take him home with them because of their dogs - and he and Frank have developed a wary friendship over the years. Faulkner ignores that Frank smells like dog, and Frank tries not to think too much about how Faulkner is probably plotting world domination.

But back to Grant. Gerard is generally good at knowing who Frank will and won't like, so besides loving all the guy's books, Frank knows he'll probably like him. And hey, he once cornered Keith Morris in a convenience store. He can talk to Grant Morrison in a professional setting and not sound like an idiot.

*

The morning of the signing, Frank wakes up early and nervous. This bookstore is important to him. He loves it, loves the atmosphere, loves the mixture of new and used books; he even loves Faulkner. He's put a lot of himself into it, and the graphic novels section is his baby. He's pretty sure Grant primarily agreed to this signing because Frank knows Gerard, so he wants to make a good impression.

He gets to the store well before his shift is supposed to start and cleans some more before starting to set everything up. James rolls in with coffee because he's an angel in human form, a hairy, sweaty angel with a beer belly and bad tattoos. Granted, he has a tattoo Frank gave him and one that matches one of Frank's, so Frank probably can't talk about bad tattoos. Their part-timers roll in next. Shaun looks as fucking nervous as Frank, and Amy has a box of donuts.

"What is this, Butter Frank Up Day?" he asks.

"Yes," she replies emphatically. "You've been anxiety cleaning for two weeks. Time to relax and eat donuts."

Frank takes a donut, then slams the box top down before Faulkner can help himself. "None for you, furball." He knows Amy's right. He scratches Faulkner's head and looks around. They really are ready. The store is practically sparkling, the signing table is all set up, everything is good. He takes a deep breath. "Okay. We can do this."

"We've done signings before, Iero," James says with a shake of his head. "You need a vacation. Or to get laid or something." Frank flips him off lazily.

Frank pokes his head outside and sees the line starting to stretch down the block and smiles. Yeah, this will go well. Grant's agent calls and lets Frank know they're on their way in. Frank grins at his staff. "Here we go."

When Grant comes in the door, he slips his sunglasses in his pocket and smiles at all of them. Frank steps forward to introduce himself. "Very happy to meet you," Grant says. "Gerard speaks highly of you."

"Well, that's a relief," Frank jokes. "But we're honored, really, and our customers are so excited to meet you."

"Excellent," Grant says, and Frank leads him over to the table they have set up.

"There's water and Coke and Red Bull and donuts just behind you. If you want coffee, just say the word, and we can get some of that, too."

"It's perfect, Frank," Grant replies. "I'll be fine, and Liam is here to help me out, so you don't have to...." He waves a hand expressively and smiles broadly at Frank. Frank smiles back. Grant has a really fucking nice smile, and Frank definitely understands what Gerard was saying the other night.

"Okay. Let me know if you need anything at all. If you're ready, I'll go unlock the door."

Grant grins again and twirls a Sharpie in his fingers. "Let's do this."

Frank opens the doors, and everyone actually follows his instructions about lining up. There are enough sales that he knows he's going to be happy when he does the books for this week, not cranky. When things are finally going smoothly, Frank steps back and watches Grant speak to various people.

"He is fucking intense," he says to Shaun, who just finished ringing up a sale.

"He's been like that with every single person who walked up to the table," Shaun replies.

"Wow," Frank says and moves a little closer, so he can hear better. Grant is by turns funny and fucking inspirational and genuinely really sweet to every person he talks to.

"If we could bottle that and give it to all our authors, my job would be so much easier," Liam says, joining them.

"I bet," Frank says. "He's like, the most earnest person I've ever met, apart from Gerard."

"Your mutual friend, yes," Liam says. He seems nice too, and Frank's glad this is going well. He's a really small fish, and he knows it. But the bookshop has had a reputation for author events, long before Frank and James bought it from old man Davidson. Frank is glad to keep it going.

"Can I get you anything?" Frank asks Liam.

"I'm fine, but thanks for the offer," he replies with a smile.

Frank smiles back and moves to help a customer. He likes being nice to the agents. It means they're more likely to suggest their other clients make Davidson's a stop on any book tours. He also has the lingering suspicion that Liam was flirting. Which, he can't say he minds, but he's got shit to do right now.

When the last customer gets through the signing line - and Grant stayed way longer than agreed-on to finish - Frank leads them back to his and James' office. "Thank you so much for coming," Frank says sincerely. "This went really damn well."

"I'm impressed with your shop, Frank. It's everything Gerard said it was. As are you."

Yeah, no, that was flirting. Frank swallows and grins. "I don't know if I should find that alarming or reassuring," he jokes.

"I suppose that depends." Grant has an utterly charming smug smile. "Tell me, where can I go for some coffee before my meetings?"

"That's easy. Next door has the best coffee in a ten block radius," Frank replies. Grant thanks him and makes a few more minutes' worth of small talk before shaking Frank's hand and letting Liam lead him out of the store. It's not for at least an hour that it strikes Frank that maybe he should have asked Grant if he wanted company. Or at least told him to say hi to Lindsey. What an idiot. He holds in a sigh at himself and continues helping the customer in front of him.

James finally shoves him out the door an hour later, and Frank goes next door. Jessicka is cleaning up a spill in the table area, and Lindsey is talking to someone beside the pastry case. Frank leans on the counter and waits, then does a double-take. "Holy shit, Lin."

"What?" she asks.

"There's a bunch of cash in a money clip in your jar," he says.

She grabs the jar and pulls it out. "Shit," Lindsey says, "this is a lot of money."

"Did you see -"

"Who put it in? Nope, haven't looked all day. Haven't had time! Your little signing kept us busy!"

He grins. "So how much is it, exactly?"

She counts out the amount. "It... fuck. It covers the rest, Frankie." She points at the number on the sign that is next to the crossed-out previous number. "It's five over that."

"Shit," Jessicka says, peering at the money. "Who even comes in here with that kind of cash?"

"I don't know, anyone?" Lindsey says. "We get lots of traffic on weekends. I don't know them all."

"It was someone from my signing, maybe," Frank says with a cheesy grin.

"Whatever you say, punk," Lindsey replies and makes him a coffee. A fancy one. She can't stop smiling. He isn't exactly about to stop either. Today has been a fucking great day.

"Gee gonna be here soon?" he asks.

"He said he'd just meet me at my place," Lindsey says over the sound of the steamer. "Guess he got to talking to an old professor or something."

"Speaking of Gee, I am such a shit. I should have brought Grant over here and introduced you. Did he come in?"

"Maybe?" Lindsey says. "That is, definitely. But I was in the middle of some fucking smoothies or something."

"Damn," Frank says. "Sorry. He really is just as amazing as Gee is always saying. I guess I was more frazzled than I realized."

"I'm sure I'll meet him sooner or later," she replies, handing him a latte.

He takes a sip and sighs happily. "Guess I'll go home. Dunno what to do with myself without the signing to prepare for."

"Go take a fucking nap, and text Gerard, so he can get his smug 'I told you so' out of the way."

"You're brilliant," Frank tells her. He goes back to the bookstore, checks Faulkner's food and water, and grabs his bag. James claps him on the shoulder, and Amy fistbumps him as he rounds the counter. There are still a few lingering customers, but they'll be fine closing.

Grant is really great, Frank texts Gerard when he's standing on the platform waiting for his train.

Doubt me, you did? Gerard answers.

Bite me, Yoda.

He called me a while ago to say how great you are and to thank me for suggesting your store, Gerard sends a few minutes later.

Frank taps his fingers against the side of his phone and debates telling Gerard about the potential flirting. He finally decides, fuck it, might as well. So, if there was a moment when I thought he was flirting with me, would that be misinterpreting things? Keep in mind I also thought his agent might be flirting with me, so maybe I'm just really, really out of practice.

Lolololol, is Gerard's response, followed quickly by, Not misinterpreting. You're totally his type.

"Uh," Frank says out loud. "Wow." How?

Smart and pretty, Gerard replies.

Lots of people are smart and pretty, Frank texts back because might as well dig this hole deeper.

Just trust me for once, Gerard replies.

Not like it matters. He lives in a foreign country.

So you liked him too.

It should not be possible for a text message to sound smug. Frank rolls his eyes and replies, Yes. Really, yes.

Just checking, Gerard replies, and then there are no more texts.

Fucker, Frank sends when he gets home and then drops face first onto his couch.

*

The next day, Frank leaves in time to go get coffee before his shift. Jessicka has it ready for him when he walks in - they've been working next door to one another for long enough now that they have each others' routines down pat. "Thanks, Addams. Where's Lin?"

"Office, setting up her dental work."

"Awesome," Frank replies. "Hey, I want to talk to you about the artist whose stuff you had in here last month, by the way. I keep forgetting."

"Oh, that was one of Gerard's friends. Ask him, hon."

Frank nods. "Say hi to Lindsey. Gotta go."

More than once, when they get the lease renewals, Frank has thought of asking them if they'd want to combine into a single space, but the symbiotic thing they have going on works pretty well, too. Really well, considering that Frank introduced Lindsey to Gerard, and they're as disgustingly happy as he could have hoped.

It makes him think about yesterday. Gerard's not really trying to return the favor by setting him up with Grant Morrison, is he? That would be ridiculous. Frank doesn't have time for that anyway, especially not long-distance.

Later in the day when Gerard comes into the store, Frank's suspicions are raised even more. "So, when Grant's done with his mini book tour, he's coming back here. We could all do dinner, maybe?"

Frank stares at him. "You are trying to set me up with him."

Gerard looks shifty. "Maybe a little. He's great! You're great! I think you'd be good together."

"He lives in Scotland, and I live here and own a bookstore. That I run. With all of my time." Frank hopes his tone is adequately dissuading Gerard, but he gets the sinking feeling it isn't.

"Dinner isn't all of your time," Gerard says.

"I hate you," Frank tells him.

"Well, I love you," Gerard replies.

"Fuck you," Frank says but leans in to give Gerard a hug. "Thanks, I guess. But. I don't know, Gee."

"Frank, dinner is not a lifetime commitment," Gerard says. "I know you tend to think in terms of like… everything, but you're young and hot, and you're allowed to just enjoy spending time with someone."

"I yam what I yam," Frank says. "Wait, you think I'm hot?" He wiggles his eyebrows. "I'm going to tell Lindsey you're hitting on me."

Gerard sighs. "She'll just ask to watch. I'll let you know about dinner, okay?"

Frank nods. Okay, then. Double date with famous hot writer. No big deal. "Oh, I got your comics in," Frank says. "Enigma. You know you could just find this on eBay like everyone else, right?"

Gerard waves a hand. "Yeah, but I like making you do it for me."

"Support local businesses," Frank nods. "You totally bought me like, half of a cup of coffee just now."

"Lindsey gives you free coffee," Gerard reminds him.

"Yeah, I know. I'm living the dream." Frank pulls the order off the shelf and hands it over. "And if you think about it, I need the contact info for that friend of yours who was displaying over there last month."

"Oh, Becky? Yeah, sure. I figured you'd like her stuff. I'll email you."

"Awesome. I'd definitely like to display more art around here, and it'd be super cool to display the art of comics artists in the graphic novels section," Frank says.

Gerard nods enthusiastically. "I bet I have a cover original or two hanging around if you wanted one."

"I don't know if I can afford you, big shot."

"Like I wouldn't just give it to you," Gerard says.

"No way, Gee. That's money out of your pocket."

"You and Lindsey both," he sighs. "She wouldn't let me give her money for her teeth, either. I guess... I'll loan it to you, okay, Frankie?"

"Okay," Frank says with a smile. "And hey, Lindsey's taken care of now, so you don't have to worry about that any more."

"Yeah. Wish we knew who did it. I'd… I dunno what I'd do, but it would be fuckin' nice," Gerard says.

"You don't think maybe Grant did it, do you? It was like, the same day."

Gerard shrugs. "Who knows? That's the kind of thing he would do, though. And never say a word about it again."

"Doubt I'll ever have enough money to be someone's Good Samaritan like that, but I don't know. Maybe we can like... volunteer or something," Frank says, brow furrowing.

"What, like Pay It Forward? You are the sappiest person alive."

"Shut up, you think it's a good idea."

"Maybe… your two shops could do some kind of benefit? Have a portion of the proceeds go to charity? I'd totally do a signing or something for it," Gerard says.

Frank nods. Gerard is a snarky bastard, but he always redeems himself in the end. This is where the "pretty much a genius" thing comes in. "I'll think about it. Call me about dinner, okay?"

*

Frank sort of forgets about dinner because Gerard doesn't mention it again for a few weeks. He doesn't really forget, though.

And then one day when Frank is taking his break in the coffee shop, Gerard comes in and after kissing Lindsey hello, comes at Frank with a smile. "Grant's back in town," he says. "We're planning on dinner tomorrow night."

"Fuck," Frank says.

"That's up to you," Gerard snorts. "I'm just arranging dinner."

"I really hate you," Frank replies.

"You totally don't," Gerard replies. "I mean, what's the worst-case scenario here? You have dinner with friends and an interesting man, and it doesn't go further."

"Lin," Frank whines, "He's starting to make sense when he talks. What did you put in my coffee?"

"A shot of shut the fuck up and enjoy yourself," she says sweetly.

"Ugh, fuck you, too," Frank says and drinks his coffee. He really does love them.

Gerard texts him later that night with the name of the restaurant and the time, and Frank shuffles into his bedroom and stares at his closet. Fuck. He settles on a shirt and tie and black jeans and the jacket he knows Gerard covets and sets them out before going to sleep. He's not really nervous, but it's a little weird. It's been a long time since he was on anything that could be even remotely called a date.

*

The restaurant that they decided on is just a couple blocks away from the store, so Frank just walks down there with Lindsey after work the next day. That makes it seem even less like a date. He remembers, though, when they walk into the restaurant, and Frank sees Grant waiting there with Gerard.

Gerard beams at both of them and kisses Lindsey.

Grant pulls out the chair next to him. "Frank. I'm so glad you came. I was sorry we didn't have much time to speak at the signing."

"Yeah, I was sorry about that, too," Frank says. "I did a lot of eavesdropping, but that was all. Be honest - none of the other bookstores on your tour were as awesome as mine, right?" He grins.

"Not even close to being as awesome," Grant replies with a wide smile. Yeah, even Frank can't interpret that as anything other than flirting, and he can't help but really fucking enjoy it. Grant's a bit older than most of the guys he's dated, but Frank is the world's youngest curmudgeon, so he barely thinks about it. Grant's a punk in all the best ways, never mind the nice suit. "Infiltrate and destroy from within," Gerard would say. He's got stories, fucking fascinating ones.

Frank's not even talking very much before dinner because he's so busy listening to the rest of them. When the waitress delivers their entrees, Grant nudges his hand. "You're quiet. Are you enjoying dinner?"

"Sorry, I really am. I like listening to storytellers talk," Frank replies.

Grant smiles. "I don't think you could be such good friends with Gerard and not."

"Hey!" Gerard says. Grant just grins wider. He doesn't take his eyes off Frank.

"I want to hear more about your band, though," Frank says. "I'm trying to picture it now." He lets his eyes search Grant's form. "You know, the mod clothes and... all that."

Grant laughs. "It was grand fun. I miss being in bands, but the writing is full-time now. I still fool around on my guitar and write songs sometimes, though."

"Me, too," Frank says. "I guess that's what I do in my free time. When I have it."

"He's really good," Lindsey puts in. Frank smiles at her. He'd - he hadn't forgotten that they were there. They've been more talkative than him, anyway, but every time Grant talks he just gets all of Frank's attention, immediately.

"My dream has always been to be in a band. Always," Frank tells Grant. "Unfortunately, no band I was in every really got off the ground. I recorded an album with one, which was totally amazing."

"I was a huge Pencey fanboy," Gerard says. "My little brother worked for their label. I used to ride around in their fucking wretched van and everything."

"Pencey?" Grant asks.

"Pencey Prep, yeah. One of my part-timers is actually an old bandmate."

"And co-writing with me on a project," Gerard says.

"Wait, seriously?" Frank asks. "That's awesome."

Gerard beams. "We've been talking about it for ages. We're getting a pitch together now."

"I am going to have his ass for not telling me about that. Secretive little fucker. Well, James and I wrote a song recently, so there." Frank makes a face at Gerard, and Grant laughs.

"I'm sorry I opened a can of worms."

"Nah," Frank says, touching Grant's arm automatically. "You're good. We all just spend way too much time together."

"Or still too little, as the case may be," Grant says with a smile.

"I think Shaun was worried about jinxing it if things fell through," Gerard explains, but Frank's still stuck on the "still too little" comment. Grant likes him. Frank doesn't know how to feel about that. He's not a casual dating kind of guy, but he can't let this one go so easily.

"I'm glad we finally met. Gerard talks about you a lot," Frank says.

"He talks about you a lot as well. And the lovely Lindsey, of course," Grant says. Gerard actually blushes. God, Gerard wasn't joking. His friendcrush is visible from space.

"I introduced them," Frank says. "It was one of my better ideas."

"I imagine you have lots of good ideas," Grant replies.

"Maybe," Frank says with a smirk. Lindsey clears her throat pointedly, and it's Frank's turn to blush.

Conversation goes easily enough for the rest of the meal, but Frank's mind, which was previously pretty made up, is suddenly... not. Grant is interesting and funny and so fucking attractive Frank can barely stand it. And he likes Frank.

"Will you let me drive you home?" Grant asks as they're all gathering their coats.

"I..." Frank only hesitates for a moment. "Yes, I'd like that."

Gerard and Lindsey both give him meaningful looks but don't say anything. Tonight, anyway. Grant looks quietly pleased and leads Frank out to his rental.

Grant drives and chats easily. He's playing something soft and electronic through his iPod, and it's cool, but Frank interrupts him mid-description of the group to blurt out, "I don't do this."

"Don't do what?" Grant asks quietly.

"I don't go home with people I hardly know. I don't... casual never works for me."

"But?" Grant asks.

"How'd you know there was a 'but'?"

"I didn't," Grant says. "But I'm sort of hoping."

Frank smiles. "I just like you. You make me laugh, make me think in ways that basically only one other person does, and he's more like family to me than anything else."

"So you'd like me to just take you home, and stay in touch." Grant sounds - maybe a little resigned, but unperturbed.

"Didn't say that," Frank replies. "I just. This is different for me, and maybe I should have just kept my mouth shut about it, but Gerard always accuses me of being too honest and direct. Maybe he's right," Frank says and sighs.

"When he talks about you, that is always a point of praise, never a negative thing," Grant murmurs.

"You've finally given me some dirt on him," Frank says with a laugh, then adds, "Grant - take me to your hotel?"

"I would like nothing better," Grant replies. He takes a hand off the wheel and reaches over to squeeze Frank's thigh, letting his fingers slide down to his inner thigh before pulling his hand back. Frank takes a deep breath. It's been a pretty long time. That would probably be excessively honest and direct to admit.

After a few more minutes and and a few turns, they pull up in front of the nicer hotels in Newark. One Frank has always joked about forking out the cash to stay in one night. Grant stops the car in front of the valet station, and Frank moves quickly before he can get out of the car, leaning in and pressing their lips together.

"Oh," Grant hums, threading a hand through Frank's hair and kissing back. Frank sighs happily and lets his tongue slide over Grant's for just a moment before pulling back. He smiles at Grant, gets out of the car, and waits on the sidewalk for him.

Grant hands over the car keys and reaches for Frank's hand to lead him to the elevator. They don't talk, but Frank's not sure he wouldn't just say something dumb anyway. He does like the feel of Grant's hand in his. It calms the butterflies on his stomach and grounds him a little bit. Grant has to let go to let them into the room, but as soon as they're both inside, he reaches for Frank again, pressing him up against the wall and bending down for another kiss.

Frank lets his arms slide around Grant's waist and pulls him close. His mouth is hot, and his tongue is doing things that make Frank shiver. Finally Grant pulls back far enough to breathe. "Frank," he says softly. "I want you so much."

Frank's stomach swoops and his hands clutch Grant's sides. "Fuck yes," Frank whispers.

Grant's hands go to his tie. "I want to unwrap you."

"As long as I can return the favor," Frank replies and tilts his chin up, so Grant can see the knot better.

"I insist that you do." Grant pauses to mouth along Frank's jaw.

Frank reaches to unbutton Grant's suit jacket, slips his hands in, and untucks his shirt. When he gets his hands on Grant's skin, he murmurs, "Anything else you insist on?"

"Taking my time," Grant pulls Frank's tie free with a gentle tug and starts on his buttons.

"Whatever you want," Frank murmurs. He means it, he realizes.

"That's a pretty wide-open offer," Grant says.

"Did you miss the part where I want you, too?" Frank gasps, ticklish, as Grant's fingers skim along his ribs.

"Jesus," Grant says, fingers stilling on Frank's chestpiece.

"Before the bookstore, I used to spend all my money on rent and tattoos," Frank murmurs.

"I think I will start taking a little less time," Grant says, speeding up his fingers on Frank's clothes.

"Can we... bed?" Frank asks and pushes Grant's jacket down his shoulders.

"Please," Grant steps out of his boots and shrugs out of his jacket and shirt before helping Frank with his. Frank puts his hands on Grant's hips and steers him toward the bed, climbing into his lap when Grant sits. His jeans are already tight, and he can feel that Grant is hard, too.

Frank rubs their hips together and slides his hands over Grant's shoulders. He sucks in a breath when Grant undoes his button and zipper and moans softly when Grant slips his hands down the back of Frank's jeans a moment later. "Fuck."

"Fuck," Grant echoes and sucks at the base of Frank's neck. Frank arches up into Grant's mouth. Grant pulls their hips tight together, and Frank grinds down with a wicked grin. Grant lets out a groan against Frank's neck and leans back, tugs Frank on top of him.

He loves the feel of Grant's skin against his, of his arms around Frank's shoulders. Frank desperately wants all of Grant's skin, wants his thighs, his bare hips, his cock. He's starting to feel frantic. He loves this part. "Grant," he whispers. "Let's stop taking our time and get naked. Yeah?"

"Fuck yes," Grant replies and rolls him over. He quickly unbuttons and unzips and shoves his pants and underwear down his thighs and then reaches down to tug on Frank's. Frank lifts his hips up off the mattress, and Grant surprises him by pulling the fabric the whole way down his legs, then making his leisurely way back up, fingers and mouth exploring Frank's shins, the tender insides of his knees, his thighs. All the tattoos no one ever sees. He bites his lip and grips the bedding below him.

Grant pushes his legs apart and mouths up the sensitive skin of his inner thighs until he reaches the base of Frank's cock. "Fuck," Frank moans when he feels Grant's breath.

"Back to taking my time," Grant whispers. He's studying Frank's skin like there's going to be a test.

Frank takes a shuddery breath and reaches out to trace the shell of Grant's ear and down his jaw. He's beautiful. "Please," he says, "I want to kiss you."

Grant moves up his body, dropping kisses over his belly and chest as he goes. He holds himself over Frank's body and leans down to kiss him soft, slow, teasing. Frank wraps his arms around Grant's neck and pulls him closer.

Grant smiles against his mouth and settles fully on top of him. "Tell me what you like, Frank Iero."

Frank breathes out. "A lot of things."

"All right, what do you want?" Grant asks.

"It's hard for me to slow down," Frank whispers after a moment. "Make it last."

"That, I can do," Grant murmurs. He goes up on an elbow and traces over Frank's face and down his chest. He's slow and deliberate, and it's perfect. "I think maybe you are good at self-control, Frank," Grant says. "I think maybe I want to find out how good."

Frank takes a deep breath. "Maybe."

"So I'm going to suck you, but I don't want you to come until I give you permission," Grant murmurs.

"I hope I get to return the favor."

"No way am I turning that down," Grant replies, touching Frank's mouth. Frank leans up and sucks Grant's fingers into his mouth. Grant moans. "No way at all."

Frank echoes the moan. His mouth is watering just at the thought. Grant pulls Frank's fingers from his mouth and leans down to kiss him again before kissing his way to Frank's chest. He swirls his tongue around Frank's nipples and keeps moving toward Frank's cock. Frank is, in retrospect, lucky he doesn't come right then because Grant is fucking good with his mouth. He takes another deep breath and closes his eyes. He can do this.

He concentrates on the details. On the feel of Grant's fingers on his hips, on the sound of his breathing, the wet noises his mouth makes as he moves it over Frank's skin. The heat of his lips closing over Frank's cock. "Fuck, that's good," Frank grits. Grant slides his tongue over the slit, and Frank grips the bedding below him hard. This is going to be difficult.

With Grant's mouth busy, there's no lovely accent or fascinating stories to listen to, so Frank fills the silence instead: muttered curses and praise, absolutely filthy things, wordless groans. He's close, so close. He could come right now if he let go, but he won't, not until Grant gives him permission. Grant can tell, he thinks, and backs off, letting Frank ramp down a little, pulling off his cock and kissing his thighs instead.

Frank suddenly becomes aware of his own breathing. How he's panting hard and letting little desperate noises escape. He reaches out to touch Grant, to cup the back of his head.

"So far, so good," Grant murmurs and licks a soft stripe up the underside of Frank's cock. Frank forces himself to take a long, deep breath and let it out slowly. He keeps his eyes on Grant, watches him, his mouth, his eyes. He touches the corner of Grant's mouth. He looks obscene, his eyes dark and intent, lips red and shiny. Frank whines and rolls his hips helplessly. He can't come yet. He can't. But oh, he fucking wants to.

Grant bobs his head, working his tongue against Frank's cock, just enough stimulation to keep him on the edge. Frank moans loudly and cups the back of his head until Grant pulls off again. "You're so close," Grant says. "Give me more, Frank." He pushes himself up to lean against the pillows and pulls Frank between his legs.

"More," he repeats softly in Frank's ear, wrapping his hand around Frank's shaft and stroking. His strokes are slow, steady. "Gorgeous," Grant murmurs in his ear. Frank thrusts up into his hand and moans. Now Grant's mouth is still busy, but he can talk. And he does. "I imagined this the first time I saw you," he tells Frank.

Frank moans and leans his head back against Grant's shoulder. "Good as you imagined?" he gasps.

Grant nips at Frank's ear, tracing the edge with his tongue. "I do have a very good imagination," he replies. "But I believe you are equal to the challenge." His strokes speed up a bit. Frank moans and thrusts into Grant's hand again.

"Grant, please," he finally begs.

"You're still talking, I'm not sure if you're really ready." Grant sounds amused, but he keeps his hand moving.

"Grant. I."

"You want to come?"

"Yes," Frank gasps. Grant slides his thumb over the head, and Frank moans and presses harder against Grant's chest.

Grant speeds up his hand and twists it up and down the shaft. "You're so hard, Frank. You feel so good. You tasted good, too. Come now," he whispers. Frank moans, thrusts his hips twice into Grant's fist, and comes hard.

"Grant. Fuck," he gasps and presses his face into Grant's neck. He can barely see or breathe, but he can feel. He hasn't felt like this for a long fucking time.

"So fucking beautiful," Grant murmurs in his ear and strokes his hands over Frank's chest and belly.

"As soon as my arms and legs work again, it is so fucking my turn," Frank says, turning his head. Grant obligingly kisses him. Frank's eyes slip closed, and one of Grant's hands reaches up to cup his cheek. Fuck, Frank feels amazing.

Frank strokes his tongue against Grant's, and Grant makes a satisfied noise into his mouth. Frank wriggles around until he's stretched out by Grant's side, reaching out to wrap a hand around Grant's cock. Grant moans for him, and Frank smiles and kisses his chest. Grant's cock is hard and heavy in his hand, and Frank wants it in his mouth. Wants Grant to fuck him with it, if he's being honest. Maybe they're not doing that. That's okay. Frank is going to give Grant a fucking world-class blowjob. He licks his lips and leans down.

He wraps a hand around the base of Grant's cock and his lips around the head. Fuck, he missed the taste of cock, and Grant fucking Morrison is fucking hung. Just the feel of that thick, hard length in Frank's mouth makes him moan. Grant's fingers thread through his hair. Frank's sorry he cut it the last time; he'd have more to hold onto. He nudges back into Grant's fingers, silently urging him to tug, and keeps working him with hand and mouth.

Grant starts moving his hips, thrusting gently up into Frank's mouth. Frank appreciates the pace for the first few thrusts, but then he's used to it and wants more, wants Grant to fuck his mouth. He pulls back. "Give me more, Grant," he says. Grant tightens his fingers in Frank's hair and nods. Frank goes back down, and when Grant starts thrusting again, he's fast and hard and exactly what Frank wants. Frank relaxes into it and lets Grant take what he wants.

His lips start going numb first, and he loves it. He goes down farther and swallows around Grant's cock and squeezes his hips in his hands. Frank can't help moaning, urging Grant on with hands on his hips. Grant is rock hard now and leaking. Frank can taste it; he's ready to come. Frank pulls back a bit and sucks hard, and Grant snaps his hips up with a strangled shout and floods Frank's mouth.

Frank swallows it down and gives Grant's cock one last gentle lick and pulls back. He rests his chin on Grant's hip and looks up into his face. "Just like I imagined," Grant breathes, touching Frank's lips again.

Frank smiles and kisses his fingers. "Glad I lived up to your fantasies." And Jesus fuck. Grant Morrison was fantasizing about him.

"I won't ask if you were fantasizing about me," Grant says easily, tugging at Frank until he crawls back up the bed.

"Well, I will now," Frank laughs. "Jesus fuck, Grant." He sobers a bit. "I gotta go, though, my dog's been home all alone all day. I didn't really think this through."

"I'll be here until Friday," Grant replies, running a hand absently through Frank's hair.

"Yeah," Frank says, "Yeah, okay. Give me a call if you have an evening free." He kisses Grant and gets up to gather his clothes.

"I will," Grant says and unabashedly watches Frank dress.

When he's mostly put back together, Frank leans down to kiss Grant again. "You're something else," Frank says when their lips finally part.

"You, Frank Iero, are something special," Grant replies, and Frank lets himself out.

He gets a cab to his apartment, a little more than he probably should have spent, but the idea of dealing with any of the the other options was unappealing. Sweet Pea is fucking thrilled to see him, and Frank feels a pang of guilt for leaving her most of the day. "Sorry, baby," he tells her, giving her an extra treat. He feels so fucking good, though. Exhausted, but in a good way. Like he'll sleep well tonight and wake up still feeling good. And fuck, it's been way, way too long since he felt like this because of sex. He really hopes Grant does call him again.

*

He's still fucking smiling when he walks into the coffee shop the next morning, and he doesn't bother to hide it because he's gonna get crap regardless. "Frankie!" Gerard exclaims when he sees Frank and immediately gets up and comes over to the counter where Frank is standing.

"Someone definitely got laid," Lindsey says.

"I don't need to hear what kinda dirty stuff you kids get up to at night," Frank replies, just to annoy her. She rolls her eyes, and Gerard punches him in the arm.

"No, really. Was it... I mean. You look happy."

"Yeah, it was good, Gee," Frank allows. "Shoulda rethought the whole sex thing a long time ago."

"This is what I've been saying," Gerard says. "Relationships are great, and I get that you'd generally rather be with someone you love, but sex is also great. I seriously haven't seen you look this relaxed in a million years."

Lindsey's making a face. "What?" he asks.

"It's just not you, Frankie. I want you to be happy, is all."

Frank smiles at her. "Thanks, Linds. I... think, for now, I'm going to try being a little casual for a while. Because shit, I really missed sex."

"Whatever you want, sweetheart." She hands him his coffee.

"Hey, thanks for... setting it all up," Frank says to Gerard whose face turns incredibly smug.

"I knew you were his type. I just didn't know he was yours. Guess now I do."

"Is he totally going on a power trip right now?" Frank asks Lindsey.

"Yes," Lindsey replies. "Yes, he is. You should have heard him last night after you and Grant left."

"Don't quit your day job, Gee. Well, guess I ought to go sell some books now," Frank says.

"Go now. Save yourself from his insufferable smugness. I can't shut him up how I did last night," Lindsey says.

"If you do, just lock the office door first this time," Jessicka says with a long-suffering sigh.

Frank laughs and walks out the door. He thinks for the hundredth time that the fact he has to go outside to get into his store is crap. If their rent goes up again, he thinks, he's going to have to call a meeting. Sort of bizarre, that, but you do what you gotta do.

Amy comes in just a few minutes after he does. "You look cheerful this morning," she says. He grins and salutes her with his coffee. "Wait," she says. "Was last night that date with Gerard and Lindsey and Grant Morrison? It was, wasn't it? Guess it went well." She pats him on the shoulder and goes to clock in.

He spends the rest of the day grinning on and off. He's pretty sure Gerard is right. He hasn't been this relaxed in a long time.

Grant calls him around four. "I have been in meetings all day. Don't suppose I could interest you in a drink later?"

"I'd love to," Frank says immediately. And fuck, he really would. "Where and when?"

"I have a really nice bottle of vodka from an editor friend in my hotel room. Unless you'd rather meet somewhere?" Grant says casually.

"That sounds good," Frank replies. "I'll meet you there? Around seven or eight, maybe?"

"Eight would be perfect," Grant says.

"I'll go home to feed the dog first this time," Frank adds, just to see.

"Do that," Grant says, voice low. "I'll see you later, Frank."

Sounding that sexy should be illegal. Looks like Frank's memory of what it's like to walk around in a state of aroused anticipation is going to get a refresher, too. He's glad he only has an hour left. When James comes in for his shift, he starts giving Frank shit right away. "Oh fuck off. Did you call Gerard or something?" Frank asks with a laugh.

"He texted me last night," James says smugly.

"Fuck you both," Frank says. "And since I'll never be able to hide it, I'm going to his hotel again tonight. You can lord that knowledge over Gerard as you see fit."

"Booty call?" James says airily, sitting down in the office chair and propping his feet up.

"Why does everyone keep saying that like I'm incapable of having one?" Frank says, annoyed.

"Because you've only had one twice in the entire time I've known you, and you kind of hated it both times?" James asks.

"I'm turning over a new leaf," Frank tells him, "and it gets laid. I get - it - fuck it, you know what I mean."

James cracks up. "Okay, okay. Enjoy, then."

"I will," Frank replies. "And now I have to go home and feed and walk the Pea before I go."

"And change into something sexy?" James asks, waggling his eyebrows.

"Fuck you," Frank says. "Cardigans are sexy."

"You were born to own a bookstore," James wheezes.

Frank flips him off and scoops up his bag. "I'm going now. I hope you're overrun by rowdy teenagers tonight," Frank says. James just laughs.

Frank goes home. He feeds himself and Sweet Pea and takes her for a good long walk. Then he very deliberately does not change his clothes before driving over to Grant's hotel. He feels weird doing the valet thing, but he doesn't know of any all night lots nearby. At least he remembered cash for the tip. At least he's not worried about what will happen when Grant answers his knock. He is surprised, though, at the depth of his own pleasure at the sight of Grant, dressed casually in jeans and a sweater.

Grant smiles. "You are a welcome sight. Today has been nonstop, and it's very good to finally relax."

"I can aid that cause," Frank says, stepping into the room. He notes the music playing from an ipod and the promised bottle of vodka on the table along with a carafe of orange juice.

"I favor screwdrivers," Grant says beside him, fingers closing around Frank's wrist.

"I like screwdrivers," Frank replies and lets Grant pull him in for a very thorough kiss.

Grant pulls away and makes them both drinks. "And how is your dog?" he asks with a smile.

"Full and tired and probably curled up in my bed right now."

"An enviable existence," Grant says, handing Frank a drink, and Frank sips. It is good vodka.

"She lives the good life," Frank says. "Though, I can't say that drinking good vodka in a nice hotel room with you is exactly slumming it. For me, anyway," he adds.

"Or for a lad from Glasgow who's conned folks into reading his words for a living," Grant replies. He tugs Frank down onto the small sofa, close enough to touch. Frank closes the small bit of distance between them and leans against him. Grant wraps an arm around his shoulders. "Perhaps we can find a movie to watch?"

"Or just talk," Frank replies.

"Or that," Grant says. "I'd prefer that, I think. So Frank Iero, why a bookstore?"

Frank laughs and links his fingers together to show Grant his tattoo. "Clear enough?"

Grant smiles wide. "Indeed."

"It started because my dad hooked me up with a job there, though," Frank says. "He knew the owner. And then when there was discussion of retirement and selling the business, I decided to step up and buy it. Words and music are basically the two things keeping me off the evening news," he adds, taking another sip of his drink which is going down easy.

Grant runs a hand down his arm and back up to his shoulder. "Both extremely powerful aids for my own mental health."

"I guess I'm in good company then. Need a refill?" Frank asks.

"Love one," Grant replies. Frank plucks Grant's glass out of his hand and goes to make them drinks. He gets distracted by the view out the window.

"I guess at night, up high, you can sort of forget about the drugs and the muggings," he muses.

"Sounds like Glasgow," Grant replies. "You really love it here, don't you?"

Frank turns back to Grant. "Yeah... it's... Even when I wanted to get out, I always knew I'd be back." He hands Grant his drink. "It's close enough to the city for me. Can't believe you're not staying up there, though."

"Mmm. Gerard convinced me to stay here. Something about getting the full fucking Jersey experience. I admit, I'm charmed thus far."

"Why am I not surprised that Gerard is responsible." Frank takes another swig of his drink and sits back down. It's startling how easy it is to fold into Grant's side. "So, Grant Morrison, why writing?" Frank asks.

Grant laughs. "Turnabout is fair play, I suppose. I just like to tell stories, Frank Iero. There are so many. Imagination is the only thing that is both eternal and limitless."

"That's a good reason. Your imagination is pretty impressive," he adds.

Grant smiles. "How would you like to explore some of the things I was imagining while stuck in meetings all day?"

"Maybe you could be a little more specific," Frank replies with a raised eyebrow.

Grant lets his fingers travel down over Frank's collarbones. "In a meeting with editorial, I kept thinking about sucking marks into your skin."

"I already have a lot of those," Frank replies, lifting his chin a bit.

"Not from me," Grant answers. "And I was thinking about doing it everywhere you don't already have a mark."

Frank sucks in a breath. "Anything else?"

"Go look in the bedside table, and tell me if you see anything that interests you," Grant says, helping Frank off the couch with a hand on his ass.

Frank complies. "Gideon's Bible?" he asks as he walks. "Because I have to tell you I'm a pretty lapsed -" he stops. There's a box of condoms and a bottle of lube in there, both unopened. "Yeah," Frank breathes. "Yeah, I'm pretty fucking interested in both of these."

"Then it was a successful trip to the chemist on my part," Grant says, setting his glass down and getting up to join Frank. He puts his hands on Frank's shoulders and pulls him back against his chest. "This part, I imagined in lunch with... well, it's not important. I don't care for him anyway."

"How did you imagine it?" Frank asks and leans up to mouth Grant's jaw.

"I went through several scenarios, honestly. It was a very boring lunch meeting, but I'm fond of the last one. You're kneeling on this lovely large bed, holding on to the headboard."

Frank moans. "Yes. Fuck yes."

Grant moves his hands down Frank's chest to unbutton his cardigan. "Have I told you yet today how incredibly sexy you are, Frank?"

Frank laughs breathlessly. "Me? How about you. Fuck."

"How about me?"

"Fuck. Every word you say. Fuck. I need you," Frank whispers and turns in his arms.

"At your service, beautiful," Grant says.

Frank slips his hands under Grant's sweater and tugs it up over his head. He lets himself really study Grant's body, the slight belly, the scar there. "Fuck. You might be getting a few marks of your own," Frank murmurs.

"I would welcome them," Grant replies and gets Frank's t-shirt off. He unbuttons Frank's jeans, slipping his hands inside to cup Frank's ass. He lets the tips of his fingers trail down between Frank's cheeks, and Frank moans. "I also let myself imagine working you open," Grant murmurs. "I'd like to start that now."

Frank presses his face against Grant's chest and kisses his sternum. "Yes," he whispers and toes off his shoes and takes his pants and socks off. He reaches back to Grant, though, to take Grant's trousers off himself. He ends up on his knees in front of Grant, and part of him doesn't want to move. He really wants to be fucked, though. He looks up at Grant, lets it show in his face how much he appreciates the view.

Grant reaches out and traces his fingers over Frank's face and then tugs him up. "On the bed. I want my hands on you."

"How would you like me?" Frank grins.

"On your stomach with a pillow under your hips," Grant murmurs. It's unexpectedly fucking hot, displaying himself for Grant like this. "Beautiful," Grant murmurs and settles on the bed between Frank's legs. "A jack-o-lantern?" Grant asks curiously and traces the outline with his fingertip.

"Halloween. Didn't you see the knuckle tats? It's my birthday."

"I saw you had them, but I was a little distracted by everything else about you to read them," Grant murmurs.

"Well, that's the story." He feels Grant's fingers trail down his spine, lingering for a moment on the crossed revolvers on his back before moving even lower. Frank expects the crack if the lube cap. Instead, he gets Grant's lips on the revolvers, following the same path as his hands.

"May I?" Grant murmurs.

"Oh, fuck yes," Frank chokes out, pressing his cheek into the mattress. Grant spreads Frank's cheeks wide and leans in. He slides his tongue gently over Frank's entrance, and Frank gasps into the bedding and clenches his hands in the pillow he's holding. He wants this so much he can't breathe. It's hard to hold still when all he wants to do is rock back into the hot, wet pressure of Grant's lips and - fuck, his tongue, circling Frank's hole and pressing in. He moans loudly, and he can't help move his hips back. Grant moves with him.

Grant clearly just means to wait until he has Frank moaning and frantic, but he doesn't miss a beat before cracking the cap of the lube and pushing in a finger instead. He licks around his finger and slides it slowly in and out. "So tight," Grant says and crooks his finger to stroke over Franks prostate.

"Holy fucking -" Frank spits out.

"Not at all holy, beautiful. Christ, you're tight. How long?"

Frank thinks. "Two years," he finally manages to moan out.

"Fuck," Grant says, fingers still moving. "Someone like you, Frank, ought to be fucked boneless and satisfied every night. I shall do my best." He adds another finger and speeds up his thrusts.

Frank doesn't have any real words left. Just curses and moans. He whines a little, though, when Grant adds the third. He needs it so badly. Needs more. The whine strangles when Grant's fingers pull out of him, and Grant urges him up.

"The headboard, beautiful." Frank pushes himself up. It feels like a massive effort, but he wraps his hands around two decorative scrolls and holds tight. He looks back over his shoulder - an awkward stretch but worth it, to watch Grant roll a condom down over his cock and slick himself up. Grant moves closer, wraps a hand around Frank's hip and lines up. "Ready?" he whispers.

"Yes," Frank replies. Frank bites back a whimper of sheer overwhelmed sensation as Grant pushes into him, clutching the headboard and panting.

"So good," Grant praises him when he stops moving. "Christ, you feel perfect."

"So do... oh fuck, so do you," Frank moans. He feels Grant's lips on his shoulder, and then he starts thrusting, slow but not gentle. Grant kisses his neck and shoulders and fucks him, strokes hard and controlled and so, so perfect that Frank can't do anything but squeeze his eyes shut and push back into the thrusts with a ragged moan.

Grant wraps one hand around Frank's where it grips the headboard and the other around his body, sliding it down his stomach to wrap loosely around his cock. "Fuck my hand," Grant urges him.

"Fuck, just don't slow down," Frank gasps.

"Wouldn't dream of it," Grant says and kisses behind his ear. Frank lets the momentum of Grant's thrusts push him into the circle of Grant's fingers. Frank braces himself against the headboard and pants, listening to Grant's broken breath in his ear. "Can't wait," Grant gasps, and Frank pushes back even harder. Grant's rhythm starts breaking, and Frank knows he's close. Frank's close too, and Grant speeds up his hand on Frank's cock. Frank comes first, somehow, gasping Grant's name and pushing his hips hard against Grant's fist. A moment later Grant thrusts too, pressing them both heavily against the wall as he groans into Frank's ear and freezes, warm and solid and heavy against Frank's back.

Grant wraps both his arms around Frank and pants against his neck for a long moment. When he pulls away, pulls out, Frank can't hold in the whimper. He lets go of the headboard. His hands are stiff, and he's suddenly chilly. When Grant returns to him, pulls him down, and gets them under the covers, Frank sighs happily. Grant kisses him now, slow, lazy kisses. Frank kisses back, wraps his arms around Grant's neck and holds on.

"Can you stay? I'd like to buy you breakfast," Grant murmurs against his lips.

"I don't know if that would be a good idea," Frank sighs.

"Whatever you want, Frank," Grant says.

Frank wants to stay, wants to wake up to Grant's kisses and eat breakfast with him, but it's not a good idea. Not for him. He knows himself well enough for that. "Will I see you again before you leave?" Frank asks casually.

"I have dinner engagements with old friends the next two nights," Grant says regretfully.

"Maybe some other time, then," Frank replies, stretching to kiss Grant again. They end up kissing for a long time, slow and sleepy and perfect. Frank finally pulls away and gets up to start dressing. If he doesn't leave now, he never will. Once again, Grant watches him dress with an expression of lazy satisfaction.

When he's dressed, Grant gets out of bed, and fuck, he's gorgeous, and his body is just... Frank needs to leave now. "Call me the next time you're in town," Frank says and leans up to kiss him.

"It will be my pleasure," Grant replies, tugging Frank solidly against him. His naked body. And his mouth...

"Ours, I think," Frank corrects, skimming a hand over Grant's ass before pulling away. He makes sure his keys and wallet are in his pockets and slips out the door. It's been a really great two days, he thinks. It's probably a good thing it can't last any longer, or Frank might get used to it.

He retrieves his car from the valet and drives home to Sweet Pea. He feels even more amazing than he did yesterday. Maybe he should do this again. He's been asked out at least a couple times recently. Frank taps his fingers on the steering wheel and tries to remember names. He can't. They were always randoms at shows, and he threw their numbers out. There's one regular at the store that always flirts with him, but that would be weird. "You suck at this," he tells himself in the rear view mirror. Oh well, he's probably got at least enough mental imagery to jerk off to for a good long while. That, he's good at.

*

The next day, Frank is helping a customer pick out a few books for their thirteen year old niece when Gerard comes into the store. "No," he says, "you really can't go wrong with the classics. None of this Twilight crap. Sends a bad message."

Gerard snickers quietly but stays out of the way until Frank has rung them up and handed over the tote bag. "Hey, Frankie," Gerard says with a grin and slips behind the counter and pulls himself up on the second stool.

"Hey, you lost counter privileges last time you fucked with my ipod. Did James hire you without consulting me?"

"Fuck you," Gerard says and nudges him companionably with his elbow. "You saw Grant again last night?"

"Is that okay, Mom?" Frank asks easily, snagging a copy of the local free paper off the counter and turning to the events section in the back.

"'Course. How'd it go? Are you seeing him again?" Gerard questions.

"Thanks for the seal of approval, it was fantastic, maybe if he comes to town again and gives me a call," Frank parrots back. "Oh, look, there's an art opening at that place in the old factory. Do you and Lin want to go?"

"Duh," Gerard says. "So, define fantastic."

"What, you want all the dirty details?" Frank asks.

"No," Gerard retorts, in a tone that suggests to Frank that he wants to say yes. Giant fucking crush.

"You're probably not the only fanboy who would go gay for Grant," Frank muses. Gerard snorts around a giggle, and he gets all red, and Frank laughs hard. "It was really fucking good, Gee," he finally says when he calms down.

"Good. You're sure you're okay with -" Gerard waves a hand.

"It's good. It's fine. And anyway, he's got shit to do the next couple of days, and then he'll be gone, so it's not like I could do anything about it," Frank says with a shrug.

"Yeah," Gerard says noncommittally.

"Seriously, I know I suck at this, but like, I do know myself, Gee. I'm fine," Frank says.

"Okay," Gerard says. "Sorry, Frankie. I just feel responsible."

Frank smiles and squeezes his shoulder. "And I'm glad you set us up because I really did need this."

"If I say 'I know,' will you punch me?"

Frank laughs. "Nah. Not today anyway. I am way too well-fucked for that."

"There's the smugness I was looking for," Gerard smirks.

"Don't tell me you wouldn't be smug as shit if Grant Morrison fucked you into the mattress. Or wall, I guess," Frank retorts.

Gerard appears to be picturing it, which, given the length and general tenor of their friendship, is not unexpected, if a little weird. "Hot," he pronounces.

"Like fire," Frank replies.

Gerard grins. "Good."

Frank leans forward and impulsively kisses Gerard's cheek. "You're a good friend, Gee Way. Don't ever let me tell you different."

*

Frank ends up tagging along with Gerard and Lindsey to the art opening.

He works, of course. Works on their orders with James. Eats too much of Amy's latest Frankensteined baked goods. Goes home and walks Sweet Pea and listens to vinyl.

He lets Jessicka drag him to a bar to hear a really mediocre band and gets the bassist's phone number. Jessicka watches him throw it away and doesn't comment.

A month and a half goes by, and Frank's sitting at home with a book and Sweet Pea on his lap when phone rings from an unknown number. He almost doesn't pick it up, but sometimes business calls end up coming to his cell, so he does.

"Read any good books lately?" asks a warm Scottish voice.

Frank grins into the phone. "Currently reading The Book Thief, and I love it. How about you?"

"Too tired, sadly. I finished writing one, though, and much to my delight have ended up in New York for the weekend."

Frank's stomach flips. "What are you up to?" he asks as casually as he can manage.

"Looking for some of the best company I know," Grant replies. Frank bites his lip and swallows.

"If you mean me, I might be able to find some time to spare."

"I do, as a matter of fact, mean you, Frank Iero."

Frank's stomach does a series of flips. "I have tonight and all of tomorrow, depending on what your schedule is."

"My schedule is flexible, are you?"

Frank snorts. "You don't even try to be subtle, do you?"

"I can be when necessary. Is it necessary with you, Frank?" Grant asks. He sounds supremely amused.

"No, not really. And I am pretty flexible, actually. I've been letting Lindsey drag me to her yoga classes with her."

"I enjoy yoga as well. And meditation," Grant says easily.

"I'm not so good at that one," Frank says. He's trying to convince himself it would be a good idea to just pack an overnight bag and get on a train right now. And also simultaneously trying to convince himself to wait.

"I really have no agenda for this trip. I was on the other side of the country and unexpectedly needed to be back in Glasgow. The only available flights were horrendous for any number of hours, so I decided to just make a weekend of it and fly out Monday on a flight that suits me," Grant says.

Frank's resolve is weakening. He could have James look after Sweet Pea for a day and a half... or two. "I can be there in a couple hours," he finally offers. "If that's not too late."

"Guess we'll just have to go straight to bed if it is," Grant teases.

"I wouldn't argue with that," Frank says and... fuck, he really wouldn't. He still thinks about the last time Grant was here at least half the time when he jerks off. "Text me the address," Frank says. "I'll make arrangements.

"I'll order up some champagne," Grant replies.

Frank's still thinking about that remark as he quickly folds clothing into a bag. Champagne means romance in Frank's world. But who knows what it means in Grant's? He calls James next and asks him to come feed and walk Sweet Pea. James makes a couple of dirty observations and then offers to dogsit for the weekend. "Yeah, sure," Frank replies.

When James goes "Oh-ho, it's like that now?" Frank rolls his eyes.

"It's convenient."

"I'll just bet it is," James chuckles.

Frank packs up Sweet Pea and his bag and drives to James' place, then to the train station. He scores a spot in the park-n-ride under some lights, so he's not super worried about his car when he gets on a train into the city. He tries to keep reading his book, but his thoughts keep distracting him. And by thoughts, he means dick. Pretty much. He really hopes Grant doesn't want to do anything else because fuck, he needs Grant's hands on him. This casual thing is brilliant. Gerard is maybe more than pretty much a genius. Frank tucks the book away and watches the lights the rest of the way to the city.

He transfers to the subway and walks toward Grant's hotel, then calls from a block away. "Almost there," he says when Grant answers.

"I'll come down," Grant replies. When he gets inside, Frank spots Grant getting off an elevator and walks toward him. Grant grins when he sees Frank and immediately steps into his space and kisses him hello. Six weeks disappear in an instant, and Frank can remember exactly what this was like.

"Best I've ever had," Frank murmurs, and Grant pulls back to smile, pleased.

"Then let's go have some more." His hand goes to the small of Frank's back, and they walk to the elevator. Frank has to regulate his breathing, and all they've done is kiss. "How's business?" Grant asks as they walk toward his room.

"Not bad. James had some interesting events over the past few weeks. Shaun needed some time off, but we covered pretty well. And you?"

"Been in Los Angeles working on some film scripts and finishing up a book. In all, very productive. I'm rather glad of this little break I decided to carve out for myself, though," Grant murmurs and lets them into the room.

"So am I." Frank takes the lead, pushes Grant up against the door, and kisses him again. Less polite this time. More demanding.

Grant's hands go to Frank's waist and pull him close. "I hope there aren't many clothes in this bag," Grant murmurs and lifts it off his arm.

"I get cold easily," Frank says, just to be an ass.

"I will make sure that doesn't happen," Grant says. "Although I am quite fond of the cardigans. Every cardigan I've seen for the past six weeks has reminded me -" He stops, grins. "Well. Can I get you a drink, beautiful?"

"Yes, please," Frank says and toes his shoes off and moves the bag to sit next to the dresser. He puts his toiletry case in the bathroom, and when he comes out, Grant hands him glass. "A toast?" Frank asks lightly.

"To Gerard, without whom, we would not be here," Grant says with a little grin.

"I'll drink to that." Frank takes a sip. Not that he knows this shit, but it's pretty nice champagne, he thinks. "You know I'd be in the mood to fuck stone cold sober, right?" he adds.

Grant laughs and leans in to kiss him. "I know. But I like sharing a bottle of champagne with a beautiful person. Indulge me?"

"Planning on it." Frank takes his glass over and leans back against the pillows, leering appreciatively at Grant over the rim. Grant laughs again and drains his glass. Frank follows suit, and as soon as he puts it down on the nightstand, Grant is kicking off his shoes and leaning down, covering Frank's body with his, and pressing him into the pillows. "Think we still have half that bottle left," Frank laughs as Grant nips at his throat.

"The more to lick off your naked body," Grant says. Frank shivers. He's not even into that kind of thing. It always seemed messy and not sexy to him. He's pretty sure Grant could talk him into most anything.

"Is that why you called me? As a glass replacement? I see how it is." Frank tilts his head. Grant is concentrating on giving him a hickey and doesn't reply immediately. He finally lifts his head and looks Frank in the eye.

"I don't believe I'm capable of thinking of you as a replacement for anything. Perhaps an enhancement at worst."

"Got anything you particularly want me to enhance?"

"I like what we're doing right now. Kissing, your body against mine, building anticipation," Grant murmurs and leans down to suck at the other side of his neck.

"I'm pretty good on anticipation," Frank gasps. "Haven't been able to think of anything else since you called."

"Well, in that case, I'm just going to take your clothes off," Grant replies.

"I really fucking think you should do that," Frank says.

"And once I do, I'm going to keep exploring your skin since I have the time to do so," Grant informs him. Frank leans back and lets himself be stripped, shivers under Grant's hands and mouth as Grant makes good on his word. His mouth and fingers touch every inch of him, Frank is pretty sure. Sometimes he asks about the tattoos, but mostly he just touches and tastes them.

"You're going to let me return the favor tonight," Frank tells him in a low voice.

"Whatever you desire," Grant murmurs and moves back up his body to kiss his lips again. Frank strokes his tongue against Grant's and grabs his shoulders to roll them. Grant's arms wrap around his waist and hold him close. Frank loves the feel of Grant's hard cock against his belly. He starts on the buttons of Grant's shirt, bending to taste his throat, to fasten his lips around a nipple as soon as he pushes the fabric aside. "Fuck, Frank," Grant gasps.

Frank moves to his other nipple and sucks. He lets his teeth graze over it a little and smiles when Grant moans. He gets Grant's shirt off and returns to his chest, sucking hickeys across the pale, freckled skin. It's addictive, having this man so still under his mouth and hands. Still, but not quiet. He's full of praise, of curses and moans. Frank loves it, loves his voice, his accent, everything.

He bites at Grant's side just above his waistband, sets his fingers on the button of his jeans, and waits. With other people, he'd be chomping at the bit to get going. With Grant, fuck. He wants to enjoy every moment. Frank mouths thoughtfully at Grant's cock through his jeans. He can't even decide what he wants tonight. Maybe he just wants to get Grant naked and move together until they come. He's got time for other things later. "You're quite the tease tonight," Grant murmurs, fingers sneaking in to flick the button and zip open.

"I have time to be," Frank murmurs and grabs onto Grant's waistband and tugs. Grant lifts his hips and Frank pulls his briefs and jeans down his thighs. He pauses to run his mouth over Grant's hips, his belly, and down to the base of his cock.

"Suck me, beautiful," Grant murmurs. "So many times I wanted to see you on your knees in front of me."

"And now you're on your back," Frank teases. "I think I like it."

Grant smiles and runs a hand through his hair. "I rather like it myself."

Frank takes Grant's cock in his mouth and swirls his tongue around the head. Fuck, he loves this. Grant lets him suck and lick for a minute or two before curling a hand around his nape and tugging. Frank slides up his body and settles his hips against Grant's and moans. He kisses his way up Grant's throat to his mouth. Grant's hand settles around the back of Frank's head instead, carding through his hair as Grant's other hand soothes a path up and down Frank's spine. Frank shivers and moves his tongue against Grant's. His hips start moving too, small little circles against Grant's.

Their skin slides together, Frank making little moaning noises into Grant's mouth. He can come like this, no problem. He has trouble imagining any situation where Grant couldn't get him hard and ready in moments. Grant starts moving his own hips with Frank's, and Frank moans again. The way Grant's cock feels against his is overwhelming. And Grant's hand on his back… Frank has to pull away from his mouth for a moment just to breathe. They're tangled together, hard, hot, sticky, leaking. Frank reaches between them to get a hand on their cocks, biting at Grant's neck. Grant moans then, hands tightening in Frank's hair, on the small of his back.

"Feel so good," Frank tells him.

"Keep going. Mess me up," Grant tells him, tipping his chin up. Frank sucks under his chin and keeps his hand stroking their cocks, keeps moving his hips. Grant is groaning his name in no time, hands tightening in Frank's hair, on his hip as he freezes and arches and comes with a rush.

Frank moans and kisses him, sitting up so he can keep jacking himself until he finally gasps and snaps his hips forward and adds to the mess. He pants and stares down at Grant. Fuck, he's beautiful. Frank runs his fingers through the mess an lifts his hand to his mouth. Grant makes an incoherent noise, and Frank sucks on his fingers thoughtfully before repeating the gesture, draping himself back across Grant's chest and resting messy fingertips against his lips.

Grant takes Frank's fingers into his mouth and sucks, slides his tongue around them in ways that make Frank moan. "Grant," he whispers and moves his hand, so they can kiss.

"Frank," Grant murmurs back, kissing up to Frank's ear and back down. "You're perfect."

"Was thinking the same thing about you," Frank whispers.

"I'm happy to have you all to myself this weekend," Grant says. "Right now, I'd like to have you in the shower."

Frank giggles. "That's some pretty quick recovery time you got."

Grant rolls his eyes and nips at Frank's jaw. "Right now may have been an exaggeration. The sentiment is still there."

"I like sentiment, and I like showers," Frank says. "So you're in luck."

"I intend for both of us to be very lucky this weekend," Grant murmurs, kissing Frank again.

They get up and get in the shower. It's long and slow, full of touching each other and Grant washing his hair. It's probably the best shower Frank has ever had. He feels warm and completely sated after. "It’s actually time to sleep now, right?" Frank mumbles into Grant's shoulder as Grant dries him off.

"Yes," Grant replies, and Frank stomach does a tired, dizzy flip. He didn't intend to do this, not initially. But fuck, he wants it. It will feel so good to fall asleep in someone's arms. Surely he's allowed that sometimes. He brushes his teeth and sheds his towel, padding naked back into the bedroom. He did bring pajamas, but he thinks that sounds like a lot of effort right now. And looking at Grant, naked and sprawled on his side watching Frank pad around the room, they'll just be an impediment to whatever they might get up to in the morning.

When he makes for the bed, Grant gets under the covers and lifts them for Frank. Grant is as warm as Frank could want, and he takes Frank immediately into his arms. And fuck, it's good. He can't hold back the sigh of contentment that escapes him. If he's very, very honest, this is always the part he misses the most. "Perfect," Grant murmurs against his temple. Frank mumbles incoherent agreement and closes his eyes.

He wakes up disoriented the next morning, but after a few moments, he remembers where he is and what he's doing. He lifts his head off Grant's shoulder and looks into his sleeping face. Frank lets out a very small, very contented sigh and curls back up in Grant's arms. Grant makes a little noise and tightens his arms around Frank, but is either not awake or feeling just as sleepy and comfortable as Frank is. He'll take either. Fuck, he's in bed with a beautiful man. Inside and out. It feels nice to know that. To know that even if this is a casual thing, he's not sleeping with some hot person who's also a douchebag. It lets him fall back to sleep.

The next time he wakes, Grant is awake and gently tracing a tattoo on Frank's bicep. Frank blinks up at him and smiles. "Morning," he murmurs.

"Morning, beautiful," Grant replies. "Sleep well?"

"Really fucking well, yeah," Frank says.

"Good. I slept rather well myself," Grant murmurs and slides his hand up into Frank's hair. "Gorgeous Frank," he says quietly. "A sight for sore eyes, you are."

Frank draws in a breath, and his stomach flips. Fuck, it feels good to be wanted like this.

The next hour is taken up by hands and mouths, and Frank hasn't been this happy before coffee in a long time. "I was right," Grant says later over French toast. "I did want to buy you breakfast."

"Most restaurants won't let you eat naked," Frank points out, looking down at the sheet over his waist.

"True. So what shall we do today, Frank?"

"I wouldn't argue with staying right here," Frank says after a gulp of coffee.

"But we are in the City. MoMA? Natural History Museum? Something more obscure and less tourist-filled?"

"I like MoMA," Frank says.

"MoMA it is," Grant says and leans in to kiss Frank again.

They're lucky they make it out of the hotel room at all, but soon Frank finds himself wandering ramps and galleries full of art, holding Grant's hand. This feels like a date, not just casual fucking, but Frank is determined to keep the mood light. He makes terrible jokes, and Grant laughs at every one. Frank would think he's humoring him, but Grant makes his own stupid jokes in return.

After the museum they go to the movies, and that ends up more groping than anything else, but they put it on the back burner for pizza (Frank's choice) before finally ending up back at the hotel. Grant fucks Frank again. This time face-to-face and torturously slow and intense. Frank feels completely wrung out in the best way when they both come.

He sets his phone alarm to wake him early, so he can catch one of the first trains back to Jersey and basks in the opportunity to spend another night in Grant's bed. He falls asleep in Grant's arms and lets himself enjoy waking up in them before forcing him out of bed and into the shower.

"Your turn," he whispers to Grant after he dresses. "Don't wanna miss your flight."

"Thanks for coming up, Frank," Grant mumbles sleepily.

"Call me again, it was great," Frank says.

"I will," Grant replies. Frank has a hard time not hearing it as a promise.

*

"So, what kind of coffee setup do you want for Gee's signing?" Lindsey asks, tapping a pencil on Frank's desk.

"A few carafes of your good French press coffee?" Frank asks. "And pastries. The works. It's our boy; it's gotta be special."

"Gotcha. And don't forget, three weeks from tomorrow is that art benefit Gee and Becky are doing up in the city."

"The CBL...whatever one? Yeah, wrote it down, I'll be there."

"Great," Lindsey says with a grin. "I hear there might be some surprise special guests."

"Is that a hint?"

"It's been like a month. Have you talked to him?" Lindsey asks, leaning back in her chair.

"No, we just... it was just the weekend," Frank says, feeling strange.

"Okay," Lindsey says easily. "I just wasn't sure if you were doing the thing."

"Uh. What thing?" Frank asks.

"You know. The friends with benefits thing."

Oh. That thing. "I guess I didn't think about it," he says. A lie. He thinks about Grant pretty often. "Guess that was dumb. Maybe I should ask him."

"Maybe you should," says Lindsey. "If you, you know, see him anytime soon."

Frank can't help but smile. "If I see him, I'll be sure to do that." Suddenly he's even more even more excited for the stuff they have coming up.

"So how is he?" she asks.

"Uh. I haven't talked to him in a month?"

"That is so not what I meant," Lindsey replies. "How is he in bed?"

Frank sticks his tongue out at her. "There are lots of benefits, let’s just say it that way."

She pouts. "C'mon, Frankie. Details."

"He likes to take his time. And I don't, usually, but I do with him." Frank pauses. "Seriously, this isn't too much information? I swear I had this same conversation with Gerard."

She grins. "Nah. I can tell you all about how Gee-"

"No, no. That's fine. It's really fucking good with him," Frank says.

"Anybody else out there you think you might want to go out with? I have this friend who -"

"I... I don't know? It's kind of nice that he's not local, so there's no pressure, you know?"

"Yeah, okay. I get that. He seems like the laid-back type anyway. Maybe that's good for you."

"I'm laid-back," Frank protests. Lindsey just laughs. Frank studies her for a moment. "This might be a terrible time to bring this up, but - did you look at your lease renewal yet, Lin?"

"Yeah," she replies.

"Rent's going up again," he says.

"Yeah," she says with a frown.

"We could combine," he says. "I think it could work."

"You'd lose floor space," Lindsey points out.

"We could figure it out," Frank says. "All four of us. And if it's not gonna work, we could...maybe even look for other spaces." Frank smiles nervously.

"You're really serious about this," she says.

He nods. "It makes sense for us. We're practically one business already."

"It works for Barnes and Noble," she adds, and he hushes her.

"Not so loud, the books will hear you."

She laughs and pats his cheek. "I'll talk to Jess, and then we can all have a meeting, I guess?"

"Okay. And don't forget it's okay to say no, too."

"I know, babe, but I think you might be right," she says.

"Some of the most beautiful words in the English language," Frank replies.

She laughs. "It'd sure be something. With all of us, maybe if we do well, we could maybe actually get real time off," Lindsey muses.

"Dream big," he laughs. "So, Saturday at three for Gerard's signing."

"Saturday at three," Lindsey confirms. "With lots of coffee and pastries. I'm glad the rest of you will be here because Gee is going to be an uptight mess until it starts."

"Well, he's our uptight mess," Frank says. "Assure him a few times that I know what I'm doing."

"He knows that. He's seen it in action. He's more nervous about everything else, I think," she replies.

"You could remind him that he knows what he's doing, too," Frank laughs.

"You would think that," she says. "So you're for sure coming to the benefit?"

"Yes. I made sure I had the evening off, marked it in my planner and everything," Frank replies.

Lindsey squeezes his hand. "Come by for coffee later." Frank waves and clicks to bring up his budget spreadsheet. He's got a feeling that Gerard has been talking to Grant. He doesn't know how to feel about that. They're friends, so it's not like he could or would stop them from talking, but he wishes he knew what they were saying. Maybe he can bug Gerard about it later.

*

Frank takes the train up to the city for the benefit with Lindsey and Jessicka. They both look beautiful. Frank feels slightly underdressed, but lord only knows what Gerard will be wearing, so he's probably fine. The last few weeks have been busy. After Gerard's (extremely successful) signing, the two businesses had begun serious discussions about their futures. They'd had lots of meetings, mostly involving beer at one of their apartments, and talked and talked. Frank is pretty sure they’re close to hashing out an agreement. It's sort of nice to hang out with them and not talk business tonight, though. And Frank's looking forward to finally meeting Becky since he'd bought one of her drawings for the bookstore.

He's relieved to see Gerard is wearing fairly normal clothes. Gerard, of course, drags him over to his signed comic and shows him all the bids. Frank laughs. "Move, or people will be too intimidated to come over and place a bid."

"You gonna bid on Becky?" Gerard asks. "She has some of her Dracula illustrations here."

"I hate you," Frank groans. "Show me. And then introduce me."

Gerard grins and pulls Frank over to Becky's illustrations. They're fucking amazing, and Frank totally places bids on two of them before Gerard tugs on him again and drags him over to a small, very pretty redhead. "Becky," Gerard grins. "This is my friend Frank. He digs your stuff."

"Well, those are the best kinds of people to meet," she laughs. "Hi."

Frank shakes hands. "You sold me that huntsman piece a while back," Frank says. "I have it in my bookstore now."

"Oh awesome! Gerard keeps talking about it, and I keep wanting to come out and see it! It's amazing how far apart Brooklyn and Newark can be," she says with a bright grin.

"We have better pizza," he says. "Come out anytime, though."

She smiles. Frank reflects that she is really, really pretty, and it's sort of too bad he's not a little more interested in women. He can appreciate, though. Gerard introduces him to a few more of his comics friends, and they all get this look of recognition on their faces like, "oh you! Gerard talks about you all the time!" It's kind of great.

Lindsey finds her way back to them after a while, and Frank wanders off to get a drink at the bar. He's leaning against a beam near the bar when the organizer picks up a microphone. "Ladies and gentleman, we have a surprise guest tonight." Frank starts paying attention. He has his suspicions, which are only confirmed when the organizer changes a lot in the auction. "We have here some original signed Frank Quitely pages, but we're changing the reserve now that the writer has signed them as well. Grant Morrison, everyone."

The whole room bursts into applause, and there's Grant in his black pinstripe suit grinning a little sheepishly at everyone and taking the mic. "You're very kind. Thank you all." And then he launches into what Frank can tell is a totally off-the-cuff, completely sincere speech about the importance of CBLDF and the work they do, and Frank can only stare. It's like the universe felt the need to remind him how smart and charming Grant is.

"As if I could forget," Frank mumbles.

Lindsey sidles up next to him. "Told you there'd be a surprise," she says in his ear when Grant's done and expertly juggling the thirty or so people wanting to speak to him.

"He looks pretty busy," Frank replies.

"I'm sure he is, but he won't be when we all go out after the auction," Lindsey says with a smug, red smile. Frank smiles back at her. "He wasn't sure he could make it, but he'll be here until tomorrow afternoon," she says.

Frank's stomach flips. That's not a lot of time, but it's enough to... well. He should probably talk to Grant before he makes plans for them. For now, he'll enjoy the party and the view. The view, when not obstructed, is fucking amazing.

Christ, he looks good. He always does, but right now, Frank wants to drag him to a dark corner and kiss him breathless. Gerard finds him first, though, grinning happily, and after that it's only a matter of time until Grant joins them.

"Frank, it's very good to see you," Grant says. He's leaning close, and his hand is lingering on Frank's arm. Frank grins up at him.

"No one told me you were coming. I had one vague hint weeks ago."

"It wasn't a sure thing until two days ago, and I didn't want to say anything for fear of jinxing it," Grant replies.

"Well, I hope you enjoy your twenty-four hours in New York, jet setter," Frank teases.

"I intend to," Grant says, looking Frank in the eye and stroking his fingers over Frank's wrist.

"Looks like you're getting a head start," Gerard snarks. Frank flips Gerard off and smiles at Grant. Jesus fuck.

"Gerard, are you feeling neglected?" Grant asks sweetly.

"He shouldn't," Frank says. "But I wouldn't want to be rude."

"Not at the charity auction at any rate," Grant says.

Frank finally looks over at Gerard to see him pouting hilariously. "Your face is stupid," Frank tells Gerard, squeezing him and kissing his cheek. Gerard laughs and jabs him in the side.

The rest of the auction is kind of a blur. Frank wishes he could just attach himself to Grant's side. Instead he makes nice with everyone, and when Grant is in his group, Frank enjoys it. He can feel Grant watching him, though. When Frank wins one of Becky's drawings, he's excited but still not distracted. He thinks he might not make it out of the restaurant, or bar, or wherever they end up without some seriously inappropriate groping happening. Luckily, he's pretty sure Grant won't mind one bit.

When the auction winds down, and the thank yous are all said, their little group decides on a restaurant not far away and heads over. They manage to find a place to sit. "Save me a seat," Frank murmurs in Grant's ear and goes to buy him a drink.

Grant doesn't save Frank a seat; he follows him. When Frank notices, Grant lifts an eyebrow, reaches for his hand, and tugs him in the direction of the restaurant bathrooms. Fuck. Frank's dick is on instant overdrive, and he only vaguely notices that there's a door, and it locks, and Grant's locking it, and then he's making solid contact with Grant, pushing him up against the wall as Grant thrusts his fingers into Frank's hair.

Frank wraps his arms around Grant's waist and immediately opens his mouth for Grant. Fuck, he suddenly can't believe it's been almost two months.

"So good," Grant murmurs between kisses. "Couldn't wait."

"Me neither. Fuck." Frank slips his hands underneath Grant's shirt at the small of his back and presses closer.

"What can I have?" Grant asks. "What do you want? Tell me, quick."

"I want... fuck. I really want you to fuck me, but we don't have time for that. I. Suck me?" Frank asks.

"Gladly. And perhaps later tonight we can see about the other," Grant responds, turns them around so Frank's back is against the wall and sinks to his knees.

Frank catches sight of himself in the mirror, and he looks less smug than... stunned, really. That someone like Grant will just go to his knees on a moderately-disgusting floor for Frank. Then Grant gets Frank's jeans open and pulls his dick out, and Frank watches his face smooth out, too busy trying to hold himself up to think. Below him, Grant moans appreciatively and takes the head of Frank's cock in his mouth. Frank bites his lip and sucks in a breath. Grant's mouth feels incredible, and he's so fucking beautiful.

Frank reaches out and traces his fingers over Grant's cheek. I missed you, he could say. He doesn't. It's been two months since Frank has had sex with anyone, though, and he's not sure he could get his voice to work anyway. Grant goes down farther on his cock and swallows around the head. Frank moans. Fuck, he's not going to last at all.

He looks over at their reflections again. He can't see Grant at all, of course, and his own face is flushed, mouth slack. He licks his lips. "Grant, fuck, so good. Wanted this all night. Want you." Grant hums around his cock and reaches up to cup his balls. Frank closes his eyes, and his head thunks against the wall. "Fuck, Grant."

Grant's mouth is making wet noises on Frank's cock, and the suction is just right. His touch on Frank's balls tips things over toward "fuck, gonna come" really fucking fast, and Frank smooths a hand over Grant's head, cups his cheek, and whispers, "Can't hold off much more."

Grant meets his eyes and just keeps sucking. He lets his fingers wander back over the skin behind Frank's balls to slide over his entrance, and that sends Frank over the edge. "Jesus fuck," he grunts, curling down around Grant, a hand tight on his shoulder, coming hard.

Grant swallows it down, pulling back to lick gently at what he's missed, before Frank whines and tugs him up to lick the taste out of his mouth. He uses a hand to scrabble at the button and zip of Grant's suit pants. He wants to make Grant come now. So fucking badly.

"Frankie," Grant groans as Frank finally gets a hand into his briefs and around his cock. He's hard too, leaking at the tip, and so fucking big that Frank's mouth waters.

"Dammit, want you inside me," Frank slurs, kissing Grant's neck.

"Later, beautiful," Grant gasps. "I don't think I could leave without being inside you at least once."

Frank can't even really fucking stay, not tonight. He has to open tomorrow, and this - it wasn't in the plan. But he will, for this. He'll just get by on coffee and willpower tomorrow. He thinks that with fresh memories of being with Grant, that might even be possible.

Frank jacks Grant fast, cheek pressed against Grant's shoulder, listening to his ragged breathing. He lifts his face to capture Grant's lips with his, and they kiss until Grant is moaning into his mouth and coming in Frank's hand. Frank strokes him through it, mouth pressed against his jaw. He laughs and turns to the sink to wash his hand off while Grant cleans himself up. "We're gonna get a bunch of shit now, aren't we?" he says.

"Yes, we really are, but I don't fucking care," Grant replies and draws Frank in for another kiss.

"It's been a while," Frank finally says, which is as close as he will get to saying "I missed you."

"Yes, it has," Grant responds. He takes Frank's hand as they walk out of the bathroom, and Frank squeezes and lets himself be lead back to their table. They stop to get drinks first, not that it will deflect the teasing. Frank insists on buying Grant his screwdriver. Grant grins at him, and when they get to the table, everyone falls silent. Frank takes a sip of his drink through his straw and tries to look innocent.

"Really?" Gerard finally says. Frank shrugs and takes another sip.

"You did introduce us," Grant points out.

"Because you're so smart. And pretty. And smart." Frank bats his eyes at Gerard and sits down on his lap with a thump. Gerard fusses, and Lindsey laughs. Gerard relents after a minute and squeezes Frank around the middle and then shoves him over to his own chair. Frank grins and sips his drink again.

Grant slips in between them, and Frank welcomes the excuse to curl under his arm. They'd walked into the middle of a heated conversation about comic book movies, and they both have quite a bit to say. It's fun to hang out with all of them, to eat and talk and laugh. The entire time, Frank is acutely aware of Grant beside him. Someone eventually starts the yawning, and it's contagious.

Frank leans in to whisper to Grant. "If I asked you where you were staying..."

"I'd ask you to share a cab there with me. I know you probably have plans for tomorrow or need to work, but I would love to steal a few hours with you," Grant whispers back.

"That's all I have, but it's yours to steal," Frank answers and drains his drink.

They say their goodbyes and pay their portions of the check. Grant hails a cab, and within minutes, they're pulling up in front of the same hotel Grant stayed in last time. "This looks familiar," Frank says.

"You look familiar," Grant replies. "And welcome." He takes Frank's hand, and they go up to his room. Grant gets the door open and immediately pushes him through it and over to the bed. "I thought about this on the plane and very much regretted that I wouldn't even see you for several hours yet."

"You didn't know for sure that I'd be there," Frank replies breathlessly, stripping off his clothes with clumsy hands.

"I hoped," Grant murmurs, watching Frank undress as he strips off his own suit.

They undress quickly. Grant gets Frank on his hands and knees on the bed and starts preparing him. Frank is begging almost before Grant has even given him two fingers. He needs it.

"Enough, please," he gasps, and Grant reaches for condom and lube, lining himself up and thrusting in, no hesitation. He curls over Frank's back and fucks him hard and fast. After the first few thrusts, Grant wraps a hand around his cock, and they move together until Frank comes, and Grant follows shortly after. They collapse in a heap on the mattress, Grant curled around Frank's back, and catch their breath.

"Are you sure you can't stay?" Grant murmurs against his neck.

"I can't," Frank whispers. "I need to take care of Sweet Pea, and I'm opening the store tomorrow."

"Of course. I wouldn't expect you to change your plans. I should have called you earlier."

"Is... that something we can do from here on out?" Frank asks slowly. "Call or email every so often? Just to catch up."

"I would like that very much," Grant replies and smooths a hand over Frank's chest. "I'd rather enjoy being your friend as well as your sometimes-lover."

"Good," Frank says, rolling over for a long, lazy kiss. He doesn't want to move out of Grant's arms, doesn't want to go home alone, but he has to. At least Sweet Pea will be there waiting for him.

*

The first email comes the next day - late, and apologizing for addled grammar. you were the highlight of the city as expected.

Frank grins at his laptop and begins typing up a reply. Your visits are always awesome. It'll be good to keep in touch so I can know when you're coming and maybe plan for it. We had a funny thing happen at the bookstore today. Made me think of you. He attaches a picture of Gerard making a stupid face because it makes him laugh every time he sees it and hits send.

It takes a few days, but he gets an email back detailing Grant's latest visit with Frank Quitely, or Vin as Grant calls him. It's hilarious, and Frank really wants to meet Vin sometime. Frank replies with his own email about stupid customers.

It's not every day, and sometimes they're longer than others. The first phone call still takes Frank by surprise. He can't deny how welcome it is to hear Grant's voice, though. They don't talk about anything they haven't in the emails, but it's still different. They laugh and tell each other things about their days and talk about their creative pursuits for a long time.

"I'm falling asleep," Grant finally says. "So sorry."

Frank smiles into the phone. "It's okay. It was good to hear your voice. Sleep well, Grant."

"Thank you, beautiful," Grant murmurs.

Frank swallows around several phrases that automatically come to mind and merely says goodbye and hangs up.

*

Two more emails come that week. One is a bit of a confessional, detailing some frustrations Grant is having with his aging mother. One asks Frank about an out-of print book Grant is trying to find. Frank replies as best he can to the first. His own parents aren't quite to that point, but he understands how frustrating dealing with family health issues can be. The second he answers with a grin because he totally has a copy.

"You are a miracle," Grant says when Frank answers his ringing phone.

Frank laughs. "I think other people would just call me a hoarder."

"I don't care what other people say. Isn't my opinion the one that matters?" Grant asks in a posh accent.

"Your opinion is pretty fucking high on the list of opinions I care about, but seriously. Haven't you read Good Omens? People who own used book stores do it, so they have a place to store their collections," Frank says.

Grant laughs and laughs. "You may have a point. I regret not having more time to spend in your store last time I was there."

"Maybe next time you're in town, you could stay with me and do that," Frank offers.

"That sounds delightful," Grant says. There's something in his voice Frank can't quite identify. "I'd like to meet that dog of yours, too."

"I thought you were a cat person," Frank teases.

"Cats have always been my familiars, but I do like dogs, and you talk about Sweet Pea rather a lot," Grant says.

"She is part sheep and part wizard. On second thought, you ought to get along."

"I'm sure we will," Grant says.

"She's kind of... she's a cranky old lady, and she's been through a lot, but I love her. She was the shelter reject that nobody wanted to adopt."

"Frank Iero," Grant says after a moment, "you are a good man."

Frank takes a deep breath. "Sometimes I feel like I'm battling the worst version of myself all the time. So. Thank you."

"Frank -" he pauses. "So. When am I coming to meet the inestimable Sweet Pea?"

"The schedule for the next few weeks is already set, but if you choose a weekend after that, it should be fine," Frank says.

"I will consult my calendar," Grant replies.

"And I will send you that book, Grant."

"Sounds good."

They say their goodbyes and hang up.Frank can't stop grinning for several hours.

*

When he gets the email from Grant with dates, Frank immediately makes sure he is off the schedule and refrains from starting to clean his house weeks early. Grant keeps writing to him, and they end up exchanging emails on a nearly daily basis. It’s much like what they've been doing, but Frank's anticipation is high now.

A week out, he finally lets himself start cleaning and planning what he's going to cook. Frank doesn't actually tell anyone that Grant is coming to stay until that last week. He's not sure why he didn't say anything, but when he tells Gerard, Gerard just rolls his eyes and says he's known for a while and was waiting for Frank to fess up.

The thing is, he doesn't know why Grant's coming. Except that Frank asked him to. "It's just. We've been emailing and stuff. It's weird when one of my really good friends hasn't even met my dog," Frank tries to explain.

"I'm not arguing with you, Frankie," Gerard points out.

"Um. I guess you aren't, huh."

"So, any fun plans for when he's here? Are you gonna hog him the whole time?" Gerard asks.

"I don't know what business stuff he has this time, but... it's up to him. Maybe I can cook for everyone some night?" Frank smiles apologetically. Gerard just pats him on the shoulder.

"That'd be fun, Frankie. Let us know."

*

The last few days before Grant's arrival seem to drag and go by lightning fast at the same time. Before Frank can even process it all, he's driving to the airport to pick up Grant.

"It's so good to see you," Grant says when he catches sight of Frank waiting in the baggage claim area. He doesn't stop walking until he can pull Frank in for a hug. Frank feels his whole body just melt into Grant's embrace. Fuck, he missed him so much.

He lifts his head automatically after a moment, not really expecting anything, but Grant shifts and leans down and gives him a slow, lingering kiss. Frank slides his hands to the back of Grant's head and kisses back. His heart is in his throat, and he's suddenly giddy.

"Let's go," Frank says when they finally separate. "You can fill me in on your work schedule on the way."

"I'm all yours for the weekend," Grant says.

"...Oh!" Frank replies. He... wasn't trying to arrange a transcontinental booty call. He's suddenly awash in conflicting emotions.

"I'm sure I could find a way to occupy myself if you have something you need to do," Grant murmurs.

"No, I cleared my schedule. I just didn't expect you to - okay," Frank finishes firmly. He stops at a light and glances over at Grant who is studying him with an unreadable look on his face. Frank smiles at him. "I'm really glad you're here, by the way."

"Likewise," Grant answers. "Are you taking me straight home?"

"I planned on it. Unless you want to do the full Jersey experience and go to a diner for lunch," Frank says. Grant's stomach rumbles, and Frank giggles. "Never mind, I'm making an executive decision." He makes a quick right and then a few more turns and pulls into the parking lot of his favorite diner. "This place had really great veggie burgers," Frank says. "And stuff I can actually eat that isn't loaded with dairy. But don't worry, I'll cook for you later. And probably tomorrow. I invited Gerard and Lindsey over."

"I look forward to it. I'm not much of a cook myself, so lately the only person I get home-cooked meals from is my sister," Grant says. He takes Frank's hand when he rounds the car. Frank smiles to himself. One of the things he likes most about Grant is his simple willingness to touch.

The waitress leads them to a booth, and Frank is sorry to let go, but at this point, he's super hungry, too. Grant gets something Greek and exclaims over it, but he still steals half of Frank's fries. They talk, catch up on the last few days. Frank realizes about halfway through the meal that he's just as comfortable with Grant as he is with Gerard or James or Lindsey. Grant said it himself. Friends, sometimes lovers.

Frank would like to get to the lovers portion of the weekend before he can think too hard about it.

They finish, and Grant snags the check and pays before Frank can even get his wallet out. "Grant -" Frank protests.

"My treat. You said you were cooking dinner. Now. Do we have plans before dinner?"

"We have getting you settled and meeting the dog plans," Frank says with a grin.

"How do you plan on settling me?" Grant asks with a quirk of his lips.

"However you want to be settled," Frank says. "You're the guest after all."

"I've been thinking about it for a while now," Grant says. "I guess that doesn't surprise you."

"Then let's go home, and we can do more than think about it," Frank murmurs.

Grant takes his hand as they walk back to the car, and then again when they're driving. They barely make it in the door before Sweet Pea is padding out of the living room to investigate this deviation of her daily routine. She eyes Grant suspiciously for a moment, and Frank slips some treats into his hand. Grant crouches down, and she sniffs him. He gives her the treats, and she snarfs them down. After that, she seems much happier to meet him.

Frank just laughs. Grant laughs too, kneeling on Frank's foyer floor with Sweet Pea's front paws planted on his thighs as she sniffs hopefully at all his pockets for more treats. Frank eventually scoops her up and kisses her head before offering Grant a hand up. Grant lets the momentum bring him close to Frank, and Frank leans up for a kiss. Sweet Pea contributes by yipping and licking his chin. "Let me get her settled in her basket, and I'll be right back to show you where you're sleeping."

Frank gets Pea settled and heads back to Grant and leads him back to his bedroom. "For a moment, I was concerned you'd show me to the guest room," Grant says.

"Why?" Frank asks before he can catch himself.

"The way you said it, the way you reacted when I told you I didn't need to do anything this weekend," Grant says quietly.

"I was just surprised, is all," Frank says and steps close. "Please," he says. "Grant. I want you here. Right here. I want you to fuck me now because I've wanted it for months, and now I can have it."

Grant slips his arms around Frank's waist. "I can't tell you how fucking glad I am to hear that because I very much want the same." He tugs Frank against his chest and brushes their mouths together. "This kind of chemistry, Frank. It's fucking rare. I think about it so often."

"Me, too," Frank murmurs and wraps his arms around Grant's neck. Grant pushes him away gently, but only to start undressing him. He's slow and methodical doing this in a way he hasn't been before. Every time he uncovers a bit of skin, he strokes his fingers over it, follows them with his mouth.

Frank moans softly, fumbling at Grant's clothing. He feels like he's in a trance, moving through water... something. Grant's shirt and jacket hit the floor, and he pushes Frank onto the bed. He tugs Frank's shoes off and then his socks and pants. "So fucking beautiful," Grant murmurs as he kisses his way up Frank's thigh.

"Not like you," Frank says, gasping.

"No, better," Grant replies, pushing Frank's legs up and apart, draping them over his shoulders and teasing behind Frank's balls with his tongue. Frank moans and reaches out to cover Grant's hands where they rest on his legs with his own.

"Grant," he gasps.

"I missed you," Grant murmurs. "Frank, please, I can't -" He's struggling to keep his motions slow, Frank can tell.

"Whatever you want," Frank moans. "However you want. Please, Grant."

"Lube," Grant murmurs, pulling back to shove his jeans and shoes off. Frank rolls over to grab it and a condom from the bedside table, and when he rolls back, Grant is naked and kneeling at the foot of the bed, stroking his cock and waiting. Frank spreads his knees wide, and Grant moves to kneel between them.

Frank presses the lube into Grant's hand, but he goes up on an elbow and tears open the condom packet. "I want to do it," he says, reaching out to roll the condom on, watching Grant's eyes flutter closed for a moment. He's hard, and fuck, Frank can't wait for Grant to be inside him again. He's been craving it since the moment he left Grant's hotel room two months ago.

He doesn't ask how Grant wants him, not this time. He waits until Grant has slicked his cock and pulls him down, spreading his legs so Grant can push inside. "Oh fuck," Frank moans into Grant's neck as he pushes so slowly inside. "Grant. Oh fuck." He wraps his legs around Grant's waist and a hand around the back of his neck. "Fuck, I missed this.

"So did I," Grant whispers back. "More than I can say."

Grant doesn't move once he's fully inside Frank. Just holds himself there, lips pressed to Frank's temple. When he does start to move, it's slow and smooth, just a rocking of his hips as he covers Frank's body with his. Frank kisses his neck and jaw, cheek and chin, up to his lips and stays there. Frank runs his fingers up and down Grant's back, up over his scalp, and back down again. He kisses back and rocks his hips with Grant's and fuck. Fuck. He loves this so much.

They move together slowly, touching everywhere they can. Grant is making low, helpless noises into Frank's mouth. His thrusts get more erratic, but just as slow, just as deep. He's going to come, and Frank wants to feel it. Frank clings tightly to Grant and clenches around him. That draws a broken moan from him, so Frank does it again.

"Frank," Grant gasps, thrusting faster, burying his face in Frank's neck. "Frank, Frank, Frank." He repeats Frank's name until his spine bows, and he comes.

Feeling bubbles up in Frank, and he can only hold Grant tighter, whisper his name against his skin. When Grant catches his breath, he kisses his way down Frank's chest, pulling out and tying off the condom before taking Frank's cock in his mouth. Frank moans and arches up into Grant's mouth.

Grant reaches for one of Frank's hands and laces their fingers together. He knows Frank's body - he pays attention to everything - and Frank is already so close. Grant sucks hard, working the base with his hand, and Frank moans. He feels the orgasm building, rolling through his hips and groin and gathering. Breaking. His vision whites out, and he comes in a rush. When he comes back to himself, Grant pulls the hand he's holding to his lips and kisses the back of it.

"Come up here," Frank whispers. He tugs on Grant's hand, and Grant moves up his body. Frank pulls him down on top of him again and leans in for a kiss. It's slow and tender and perfect. This is everything Frank has wanted for so long.

He actually falls asleep for a while in Grant's arms and wakes feeling lazy and satisfied. Grant kisses him until he's fully awake. Frank's so comfortable he doesn't want to get out of bed, but he needs to start dinner and walk Sweet Pea. He suddenly grins widely.

"And what's this for?" Grant asks, tracing the curve of his mouth.

"Getting out of bed to take care of the dog doesn't mean leaving you."

"No, it doesn't. And what if I join you?" Grant smiles back.

"I'd hold your hand, and I wouldn't make you pick up her shit," Frank says seriously.

"Sounds like a deal to me," Grant laughs, prodding Frank out of bed and reaching for his clothes. They dress with frequent pauses for kisses. Then Frank whistles for Sweet Pea, and she comes trotting to them. Frank kneels down and puts her sweater on her and attaches her leash to her collar before looking up at Grant.

"Your dog has a sweater," Grant comments mildly.

"She is an old lady," Frank says. "Of course, she does."

"You, Frank Iero, are a treasure," Grant says and reaches out a hand to help Frank up off the floor. Frank lets go only to lock the door behind them.

They walk at Pea's less-than-athletic pace, and Frank talks about the neighborhood, about his family and some of the dogs he's had in the past. Grant asks questions occasionally but mostly listens and holds Frank's hand as promised. Frank's a little sorry when they finish the circuit and end up back on his front porch. But it's getting dark and colder, and Pea's old bones don't need that, even with the sweater.

Frank lets them in the door and checks the clock. "I'm saving the really fancy dinner for tomorrow, but I'm making you homemade gnocchi tonight, I decided. And wine, of course. Do you want some now?"

"I would love some wine," Grant says and follows Frank to the kitchen. Frank pours Grant a glass of wine and begins cooking while Grant sits at the bar, and they chat.

Grant spends some time looking curiously around Frank's little duplex, poking through the bookshelves and looking at all the art and photos. It makes Frank get a funny little flutter to see Grant among all his things. It's... Frank honestly can't think of a more perfect evening in recent memory. Grant likes his food, and they drink wine, and when they're done, they finish the bottle sitting curled up together on Frank's couch.

"Frankie," Grant says lazily after a while, pushing Frank's hair off his forehead, "maybe we could try something different tonight."

Frank looks up at him with a smile. "What kind of different?"

"Is there anything you like that we haven't done yet?" Grant asks.

"I... fuck," Frank breathes. His mind is suddenly completely blank. "Is there anything you like that we haven't done yet?" Frank says finally. "My, ah, toy box is not large."

"I was thinking more along the lines of using things from your closet," Grant murmurs.

"What kinds of things?" Frank asks.

"Your ties," Grant replies.

Frank bites his lip. "Who's tying who up? Because I could go either way."

"I was thinking about you tying me to that nice headboard of yours and riding me," Grant says and runs a hand up Frank's arm.

"I can get behind that, yeah," Frank breathes. Really yeah. Grant's so overwhelming to his system; Frank likes the idea of being in control for once.

"Bedroom?" Grant asks.

"Fuck yes," Frank replies and pulls himself up off the couch.

"I am making a mental note," Grant smirks as Frank tows him down the hall, "how much you seem to enjoy being put in charge."

Frank giggles and feels his cheeks get hot. "Not... I. Okay. I am kind of a control freak, I admit. Usually I like to... I like letting other people take over in this. But. Fuck."

"Yes, that's the idea," Grant says, standing very still by Frank's bed and letting Frank strip him. It's... in their time together, Frank hasn't been overly conscious of the age difference between them, but maybe he has been subconsciously because Grant letting him take the lead here feels like they're on equal footing now. That Grant trusts Frank this much is making his heart pound in his chest.

Grant gets himself settled while Frank goes to get some ties. "I don't do this kinda thing much," Frank says quietly, "so just... If it hurts, or you need me to untie you, tell me, okay?"

"I will," Grant says seriously, then smiles, "but I'm not concerned."

Frank takes one of Grant's wrist and ties it to the headboard. It's snug, but if Grant wanted to pull the knot loose, he probably could. He moves to the other side and does the same before moving back to the foot of the bed and staring down at Grant. He's hard already, cock curving up against his belly, and Frank licks his lips automatically.

"Are you going to be a tease?" Grant asks.

"Maybe," Frank replies, a smile curling his mouth. He undresses himself as slowly and carefully as he just undressed Grant. Grant watches the entire time. When Frank is naked, he nudges Grant's legs apart and kneels on the bed between them. "I love having you in my mouth," Frank murmurs. "That's the real problem here. Guess you'll just have to hold out."

"I'm sure I'll survive," Grant replies. He's breathless, and that makes Frank smile. Frank stretches to get a condom and lube from his drawer, biting his lip and enjoying Grant's hissed inhale when their dicks brush together. He sets the stuff down and strokes his hands over Grant's thighs, his hips, his belly. "Frank," Grant whispers. Frank looks up into his face.

"Yeah?" Frank asks, settling down astride Grant's thighs. "You okay?"

"Perfect," Grant replies. "I'm fucking perfect."

Frank leans down to kiss him. "You look perfect," Frank tells him when he pulls back.

He moves back far enough to take Grant's cock in his mouth, bobbing his head a few times experimentally, working it with his tongue. Grant moans, and Frank knows that if his hands were free, they'd be in Frank's hair. Frank licks over the head of his cock repeatedly until Grant is leaking against his tongue. "I like that," Frank murmurs when he pulls back, reaching for the condom and unwrapping it slowly. He watches Grant watching him as he rolls it on.

"So fucking beautiful," Frank tells him. He gets some lube on his fingers and reaches back behind himself. He doesn't need much, not tonight, but he wants to give Grant a show. He lets himself moan and arch his back, lets his thighs shift teasingly against Grant's, reaches for more lube and strokes one hand up and down Grant's cock while he fucks himself with the other. Grant's hips shift up into Frank's hand, and he moans Frank's name and clenches his hands. Frank moves his hand to his own cock and gives it several good strokes, his eyes still on Grant.

"Please," Grant breathes. "This is begging now, Frank."

Frank leans down to kiss him again. He keeps it slow, demanding. When he pulls a moan out of Grant, he moves back and takes Grant's cock in hand and positions it. He sinks down as slowly as he can, Grant holding still as a stone beneath him, breathing hard. Fuck, it feels good, more than good. He wraps a hand around his cock and strokes it a few times before leaning down, placing his hands on Grant's shoulders, and moving his hips.

"Oh, beautiful," Grant moans. "That's exactly - oh."

"Oh, keep going?" Frank murmurs.

"Yes," Grant breathes. "Please."

Frank keeps moving his hips and leans down to kiss Grant. Frank can tell how undone Grant is already by the fact that he can barely kiss Grant back for how heavily he's breathing. Frank moves his hands, bracing them on either side of Grant's chest and dipping his head to kiss Grant's collarbones and nipples, still rolling his hips steadily. "Fuck, Grant," Frank breathes. "You feel so fucking good."

He sits back up and starts stroking his cock again, watching Grant's face as he thrusts down. He's staring at Frank's hand on his cock, licking his lips. "Think you can hold off until I mess you all up?" Frank asks.

Grant laughs. "Let's find out."

Frank smiles and keeps stroking his cock. He's going to come fast, he knows. With Grant's cock inside of him and Grant laid out below him, he can't not. He sinks down as far as he can, rocking his hips as he strokes and thumbs over the head. "Fuck, fuck, fuck," he gasps. "Grant." He looks up at Grant's face and keeps stroking until everything snaps, and his vision goes white.

Grant bucks hard underneath him for the first time as Frank clenches around him. Frank runs his hand through the mess of come on Grant's stomach and chest and lifts his fingers to Grant's mouth. "Come for me," he murmurs.

Grant sucks Frank's fingers into his mouth and thrusts up hard. Grant's cock feels incredible, and he looks incredible, his wrists pulling at the ties as he thrusts up. Frank rides it out, panting, until Grant moans his name and stills, cock pulsing inside Frank. Frank leans down, pulls his fingers from Grant's mouth, and they kiss breathless and sloppy.

Frank runs his hands up and down Grant's arms. "I want you to hold me now," he whispers and reaches for the ties. He gets them undone, and Grant's arms wrap immediately around him.

"So good, Frankie," he murmurs in Frank's ear.

"Never been so good," Frank whispers, tucking his face against Grant's throat.

"Never," Grant agrees and kisses his forehead.

*

Frank's not sure where the weekend goes, wrapped in a cocoon of sex and kissing and Grant's gorgeous voice and more gorgeous smile. He barely registers it's Saturday afternoon and time to start cooking until Grant asks when Gerard and Lindsey are coming over.

"Shit," Frank says and looks at his phone. "Oh good. A couple of hours yet."

"Do I get to watch you cook again?" Grant smiles.

"Unless I banish you to the living room like I had to this morning."

"I just can't help touching you," Grant says, unrepentant.

"Well, now we have guests coming, so you have to behave," Frank replies. He can't quite hold in the smile lurking at the corners of his mouth.

"Impossible. Also I am sure Gerard will sympathize with my need to touch you. Don't you think?"

Frank laughs. "He might. Depends on how much he doesn't want to see it and how much Lindsey distracts him."

Frank starts sautéing garlic and onions, and Grant does actually mostly behave himself until Gerard and Lindsey arrive to distract him.

"It's nice to not be the one cooking for once," Lindsey says. She kisses Gerard's cheek at the apologetic face he makes. "I don't mind, sweetheart. It's just nice."

"Gerard cooks," Frank corrects her. "It's just like, one thing really well, and nothing else."

She laughs. "And I eat that one thing once a week, and it's great."

"Hey, it's my turn to be told I'm great," Frank teases.

"Every meal you've cooked since I have arrived has been completely delicious," Grant tells him and catches him around the waist. Frank lets him get a few kisses in because he's apparently addicted. When he pulls away and goes back to chopping veggies, Gerard catches his eye and smiles at him.

Grant and Lindsey go into the other room to sit down, and Gerard stays behind. "So," Gerard says. "You guys are... really cozy."

Frank bites his lip. Gerard has known him too long to be fooled. "I don't know what I'll do when he leaves tomorrow."

"Keep calling and emailing? Wait for him to come back?" Gerard suggests quietly.

"I don't think it's enough," Frank says.

"Frankie," Gerard says. "You should talk to him."

Frank shakes his head automatically. "No, no, that wasn't the deal."

"Deals can change," Gerard says.

"No. I... I can't... he lives in Scotland, Gerard. It's hard enough to get away for a weekend in the city, and that's just unfair to both of us."

"I know," Gerard says. "But I...whatever you want, Frankie."

Frank swallows and nods. He's going to fucking relish the rest of his weekend. He can think about all of this when it's over.

He let Grant set the table, and when he carries the food in, he sees that the napkins are animals. "I spend a lot of time in hotels," Grant shrugs when they all exclaim over them. Frank grins at Grant and sits down with in front of the elephant.

They all settle in to eat, and Frank basks in the praise for his cooking. Despite their moment in the kitchen, Gerard doesn't try to bring up their conversation again, and it slips Frank's mind somewhere between the wine and the company and all the food and conversation. He loves hanging out with Gerard and Lindsey. Add Grant to the mix, and Frank is about as happy as he can be. It's not until Gerard and Lindsey are leaving that it enters Frank's mind again, but he promptly pushes it back out. He has this night with Grant, and he's going to enjoy it.

They take Sweet Pea for her evening walk, and Frank snuggles into Grant's side the whole way. Grant seems happy to let him, and once they get back to the house and get their shoes and jackets back off, Frank can't decide if he wants to extend the evening, maybe watch some TV or something, or to just go straight back to the bedroom.

He can only find so many things to tidy in the foyer while he stands there waffling. Finally Grant takes his hand and tugs him close. "You need someone to take charge right now, beautiful?"

"Yes," Frank murmurs. Grant draws him into his arms as Frank goes readily.

"I leave in the morning," Grant says. "Let me say thank you for the invitation."

"Thank you for coming. For everything," Frank sighs into a soft, slow kiss.

"It has absolutely been a pleasure to be here, Frank," Grant murmurs. "And to meet your beloved Sweet Pea."

"I think she likes you," Frank says. "As much as she likes anyone."

"Cranky little creature, but it's just even more endearing," Grant says and brushes Frank's hair back from his face. Frank's not sure this is still about the dog. He leans into Grant's hand. "Let me take you to bed one last time before I leave," Grant murmurs.

"Well, I wasn't planning on sleeping on the couch," Frank quips.

Grant laughs and kisses him again, then draws him back toward the bedroom. "Christ, you're beautiful," Grant says.

"Nothing like you," Frank says, and Grant laughs again.

"I'm wearing my years, but I'm enjoying them." He works at Frank's buttons and belt when they come to a halt by the bed. Frank helps him, pushes his pants down his thighs and off his legs along with his socks, and then practically pounces on Grant. He suddenly needs him rather desperately. He pulls Grant's pants open and shoves them down his thighs.

Grant lets Frank strip him and walk him over to the bed, but once they get there, he rolls over, covering Frank's body with his. Frank's eyes slip closed, and he breathes in Grant's scent, relishes the feel of his body. Grant mostly smells like him, now, like Italian food and Frank's soap, and when Frank lets his hands roam, Grant's face and head are just starting to get prickly with stubble.

Frank presses his lips to Grant's cheek and rocks his hips up. He never wants this to end. Grant rubs his face against Frank's skin. Frank sucks in a breath and pulls his face back for a kiss. He's afraid to talk. Everything he wants to say is too much. He lets his hands, his tongue, his body say it all. Grant moans appreciatively into Frank's mouth.

Grant pulls back to reach for supplies, and Frank reaches for him as soon as he's done, pulling him back down. Grant slides home, and their twin moans are muffled between their mouths as he starts to move. Frank's body is on fire, and every movement Grant makes is winding him higher and tighter. He never wants it to end, and it will be over entirely too soon. Grant hasn't stopped kissing him for a second except to pant against his lips and then lick into his mouth again. Frank thinks Grant might be leaving bruises on his hips, but he doesn't care. He wants the marks, wants them to last far longer than they probably will. He can't stop himself from leaving some of his own, sinking nails into Grant's shoulders as he meets Grant's thrusts.

Grant moves to wrap a hand around his cock, but Frank gasps, "No! Don't. I want.... Please."

"Can you come without it?" Grant murmurs.

"Yes," Frank moans. "Want that. Want just you."

"As do I, beautiful," Grant whispers in his ear and gives him a long, hard thrust. He has the right angle now to stroke Frank's prostate, and Frank crushes their mouths together again and urges him on until the sparks build behind his eyelids. Frank comes, arching up against Grant's body and moaning into his mouth. Grant echoes his moan a moment later and thrusts hard one last time. Neither of them let go for a long time, until Grant is starting to go soft inside him, and Frank whimpers when he pulls out.

Frank pulls him close again, buries his face in Grant's neck. He mouths all the words he can't say against Grant's skin. Grant strokes his hands up and down Frank's back and sides. He's conspicuously silent too, but Frank just cannot bring himself to open his mouth. Frank clings. Grant doesn't say anything, just continues holding him. Tomorrow is going to fucking suck.

Finally Frank pries himself out of bed to go use the bathroom and get ready for bed. Grant presses him back against the door jamb when they trade places and curls himself around Frank when he gets back into bed. "You're amazing," he whispers. "I don't want to leave."

Frank swallows. He wants to beg Grant to stay. He doesn't let himself. "I don't want you to leave, either," he settles on, pulls Grant's hand up off his chest and kisses his fingers.

"Can you sleep?" Grant whispers after another moment.

"I can try," Frank replies, holding tighter.

*

On Monday morning, Frank drags himself out of his apartment to go to work. At this point, he's really fucking happy to have something to do. This is why he doesn't do casual. He's not capable of being casual.

Lindsey is in the coffee shop by herself, and she frowns at Frank's expression. "Frankie... didn't you have a good weekend?" she murmurs when the two customers she's helping go find a table.

"The best I've had since, I don't know. Since I broke up with Geoff, probably."

"So why the face?" she asks gently.

"Because I'm fucking stupid," Frank replies. He takes a long drink of his coffee and wishes idly that it were a shot of something stronger.

Lindsey frowns faintly. "What did you do? He do?"

"Nothing. I just realized that I want... Lin, I want everything with him," he whispers. "That's not... he doesn't..."

"How do you know? Did you ask? Pretty sure from what I saw Saturday that this is a two-way thing."

"It doesn't matter. I have a house and a dog and a business, and he lives in another country. I can't give back what I'm getting."

Lindsey sighs and squeezes his arm. "You two are... please think about talking to him."

Frank shakes his head. "I need to move on. Something. I don't know."

"You need to go open the bookstore," Lindsey says, nodding at the clock. "And let me set you up sometime, maybe."

"Yeah, sure," he says and runs a hand through his hair and laughs tiredly. "What's the worst that could happen?"

*

Grant emails a couple times that week, just short notes. Frank answers them with stories about Sweet Pea and Shaun's kids. When Lindsey hands him a phone number on Thursday, he takes it.

He feels weird calling, but the man on the other end of the line is friendly, and they make a date. Frank doesn't know what he's trying to accomplish here. He doesn't have much intention of doing more than the one date, but maybe it'll help him ground himself again. Besides which, most of Lindsey's friends are pretty rad. He'll enjoy the evening, if nothing else. Maybe make a friend.

When Gerard comes into the store the next afternoon, and Frank tells him, he gets a look. "You're the one who talked up casual dating," Frank says crankily.

Gerard makes a face. "It was mostly so you'd agree to go out with Grant."

"Well, then I fell -" Frank gulps, "for a guy who lives in a foreign country."

Gerard sighs. "Just. Frankie. Don't... don't do anything stupid, okay?"

"Stupider than usual?" Frank sighs back.

"Yeah," Gerard murmurs. "Stupider than usual." He leans forward and wraps his arms around Frank's shoulders.

*

Frank stares at his closet Saturday night in mild dismay. He hates this part the most. Hates building up something that's not really him to impress someone else. In this, he's definitely not like Grant. Swearing under his breath, he picks out a tie - one of the ones he'd used on Grant's wrists. As he finishes the knot, his phone rings.

"Hello?" he asks and tucks the phone between his ear and shoulder so he can pull up his pants.

"Frank, hello," Grant's voice says.

"Hi, Grant," he says. "How are you?"

"You should ask where," Grant says. "I'm back in town."

"I... are you? Wow. Um. I." He takes a deep breath. "The truth is, I have a date tonight," Frank says quietly.

"Ah," Grant says, and there's a pause before he says, "If you want to see other people, I won't object." Frank doesn't want to see other people. But as much as he wants to be angry with Grant, he can't. Frank never gave Grant a say in that. "Frank?" Grant says after a moment. "If you do have time to see me, I'm at the same hotel downtown."

"Okay," Frank says. "Bye, Grant."

Frank hangs up and gives himself a moment to breathe before grabbing his wallet and keys and heading out the door.

The problem with the date is that Jason is a really nice guy. Well, not just that. Jason is a really nice guy who Frank feels absolutely no chemistry with, but who he doesn't want to offend by being visibly miserable. He's interesting and seems to be really talented, and Frank just... can't get into the conversation. He doesn't fucking care about a word coming out of his mouth, not really. He's relieved when they say their good nights.

Hope Jason had a good time, but I don't think there will be a 2nd date, he texts Lindsey. She sends back a sad face, and he stares at his phone for a moment before adding, Going to go do something really smart, or really stupid.

Break a leg, she replies.

He gets on a train and gradually makes his way back to Newark from the West Side. He's glad of the chance to think on the way. It still doesn't mean he has the right words when he gets to the hotel.

In the lobby, he texts Grant.

Grant comes downstairs, and he looks tired. He doesn't kiss Frank, just squeezes his shoulder and leads him to the elevators. "It was a nice date," Frank says preemptively when he gets into Grant's room. "With a nice guy, who teaches at Rutgers."

"I'm glad you had a nice evening," Grant says. His voice is about as neutral as Frank has ever heard it.

"That's the thing," Frank says. "I didn't. I didn't have a nice evening, and I haven't had a nice week, and - why are you here? It would be easier to not notice the giant hole you left in my life if you weren't here to fill it."

"Frank, I'm here because I want to be and no other reason," Grant says.

Frank runs his hands over his face. "That's not... I told you at the beginning. That I don't do casual, usually. This is why. Because I end up left in the cold with nothing and wanting everything."

"I want you to have everything," Grant murmurs.

Frank breathes out. "I want it with you."

"Frank," Grant says. "I know we started out just having a bit of fun, but couldn't you tell how I feel? Was I not clear enough?"

"Well, no! First it was calling me when you were in town, and then it was just calling me, and visiting me, and I can't do those things back! I don't even have a passport! Then you come back out of the blue, and I tell you I have a date, and you don't care and -"

"Stop," Grant says quietly. So quietly that Frank actually does. "First of all, I came back because Gerard called me and told me you had a date and - no, don't," Grant lays his fingers over Frank's lips. "And that you were unhappy. I came back because I do care. You have every right to date or never see me again. Or whatever you want. But I want you, and I'm sorry I didn't explain that well enough."

Frank can practically feel the blood rushing in his veins. "I... please. I don't..."

Grant cups Frank's cheeks in his hands. "I want you for weekends like we had a couple of weeks ago, for mornings when I'm a bastard, and you're ill, and everything is hell. I want you for always, Frank. Not just stolen weekends, not just sex. Always."

"But how does that work?" Frank insists.

"However we make it work," Grant answers, still cradling Frank's face. "Shouldn't we try?"

Frank swallows hard around the lump forming in his throat. "I... yes. Fuck." He wraps his arms around Grant's waist and buries his face in Grant's chest.

"I never expected this either," Grant says, stroking Frank's hair. "But I'm very sure I love you. I should have said."

"I... god, Grant," Frank lifts his head to look Grant in the eye. " I love you, too."

"May I kiss you now?" Grant says with a faint smile.

"Please," Frank says. Grant leans down, and their lips touch. Iit might be the sweetest kiss Frank has ever experienced. Then Grant runs his tongue over Frank's lip, and Frank makes a noise in his throat and opens his mouth for Grant. The tension of the past week dissolves from his shoulders.

Grant finally pulls back only to chuckle. "Frank, you're wearing the tie."

Frank knows he looks about as sheepish as he feels. "I couldn't... I was dressing, and I just couldn't wear anything else. I thought about you all week. I think - I've been thinking about you for months, really. I'm just... sort of stupid sometimes. Ask Gerard."

Grant laughs. "I really do adore you. Now, since I am here unannounced, I am at your service this weekend."

"I have to work tomorrow," Frank says. "And Sweet Pea needs walking and her medicine. Come home with me?"

"Gladly." Grant smiles, and Frank goes up on his toes to kiss him again.

"Er. That is if you don't mind giving up your hotel and wasting money," Frank adds when Grant pulls back.

"I only booked one night. Optimism, I suppose." Grant grins.

Frank laughs and kisses Grant again. "How long can you stay?" he asks.

"I'm a writer, Frank. I can work anywhere. So, as long as it takes to figure this out."

Frank breathes out. "Okay. Okay, awesome."

"Did you have dinner on your date?" Grant asks. "I admit I was, ah, a little too anxious to eat earlier."

"Just drinks. Come home, and I'll cook us something."

"Home it is," Grant says and pulls away. He shrugs on his jacket and grabs his bag, still zipped shut and sitting next to the door. Frank smiles. This is all for him. He can't get over it.

Grant takes his hand and doesn't let go, even to check out, until they bring Frank's car around. When they get to Frank's house, Sweet Pea is happy to see them both, and Grant lifts her up and carries her in his arms when Frank goes to the kitchen.

"She's so happy," Frank says and leans in to kiss her forehead. "She has two people here to spoil her. Told you she liked you," he says when Sweet Pea licks Grant's chin.

He starts dinner, periodically stealing kisses between chopping onions and mixing up his vegetarian meatballs. Grant sits on a barstool and watches. It feels so different from last time. Last time, somewhere in the back of his mind, Frank had been convinced that was the only time he would ever be able to do this. He's so glad he was wrong that he doesn't quite know what to do with himself.

"I'm not going to vanish," Grant says the third or fourth time Frank stops what he's doing to go over for a kiss.

"I know," Frank replies with a wide grin. "That's the best part."

"Not the food? Or the kissing?"

"Well, maybe the kissing," Frank allows, coming back over after he puts the meatballs in the oven and starts the pasta water. "I just... I was so sure I'd fucked up by falling for you. I know it will be hard, and we have a lot to work out, but. Fuck, Grant," Frank murmurs.

"I know," Grant says. "It's worth it."

Frank nods. "So fucking worth it."

He goes back to stir his sauce when his phone buzzes in his pocket. It's from Gerard. All it says is, ????

You can be done meddling now, Frank writes back. And come over for Sunday dinner with me and Grant tomorrow. He'll let Gerard stew on that for a day. It'll drive him crazy. After a minute he relents and adds, Love you.

Love you too, Gerard replies, followed by a You suck.

Frank laughs and shows Grant. "He really is one of the best friends I have," Grant says. "Now, perhaps, more than ever."

"He's family," Frank corrects.

Grant smiles. "Yes, I suppose he is."

"Okay, food on the table, and then we begin negotiations?" Frank asks. He's a little nervous about it all, but mostly in the way where he likes to have everything sorted out, not in the way where he thinks he won't like the outcome.

"Shall I open a bottle of wine?" Grant asks mildly, and Frank laughs.

"Yes, maybe you'd better."

Frank gets glasses, a bottle, bottle opener for Grant and pulls the meatballs out of the oven. He sets everything out and then stands back and looks at it all in satisfaction before sitting and taking a glass from Grant.

Grant serves himself, then Frank, and they eat quietly for a few minutes before Grant sighs happily. "I feel much better now. Where shall we start, beautiful?"

Frank nods. "The thing is, I can't leave here that much," Frank says. "Once we finish moving stores, I'll have a little more leeway but still not a lot."

"My habit up 'til now is to spend summers in Scotland and winters in LA," Grant says. "But the house in LA can be rented or sublet, and I have many inducements to work from this coast as well."

"I... I can get a passport and stuff, but I'm not sure how often I'll actually be able to visit," Frank says, fiddling with his napkin.

"Is that going to be a problem for you? I can change my schedule easily enough, but it's home. And my family is there."

"I know. I... right now, the thought... I don't like it, but I can get used to it. I wouldn't want to take you away from your home or family," Frank says.

"Perhaps you'll have to wait and see what decisions your businesses make? I am willing to stay here with you until you do."

Frank smiles at him and squeezes his hand. "I love you," he says.

Grant smiles back. "There is, of course, the possibility that you don't want a strange man moving into your home so soon?"

Frank laughs. "Doesn't feel soon. Feels late. I want you here if you want to be here. I... d'you want to bring your cats?"

"Now I know you love me. Does Pea tolerate cats like she tolerates people?"

"The shelter said she lived with cats before, so I think she could get used to it. Gee's allergic, though. So we'd have to like... drug him before he came over," Frank says.

"Kinky," Grant laughs. "I - Frank, there's no other way to say this. Are you going to be stubborn about me paying for things?"

Frank grimaces. "I don't mind sharing the house stuff. I just. I don't think I can afford plane tickets all the time, and... I guess I'll just have to compromise on that."

"I want to be with you. I can afford it. It means more to me than money. Promise," Grant says and drains his wineglass.

"I promise," Frank says and then grins. "And I'm sure you have like, a billion frequent flier miles."

"And a half. Frank... Are we finished negotiating for the moment?"

"Yeah, I think we're good," Frank says and finishes off his own glass of wine.

"How amenable are you to skipping the cleanup portion of this meal?" He laughs when he sees Frank's face. "All right, let's split the cleanup and take my things upstairs."

"And then stay upstairs?" Frank asks.

"Yes. Definitely stay upstairs," Grant replies and leans over to kiss him. "I have such plans for you."

"Well. Maybe I have plans for you," Frank says, stacking their plates. Grant laughs and gets Frank's dishrag soapy and damp and starts wiping down the table.

"That would also be acceptable. As long as whatever we do involves me, you, and the bed, I will be very fucking content. "

Frank loads the dishwasher and tucks the leftovers in the fridge just as Grant drapes the dishrag over the faucet. "Good timing."

"We're a good team," Grant says with a smile and draws Frank in for a kiss. Frank leans into it, circling his arms around Grant's waist and sliding his hands down to palm Grant's ass. Grant smiles against his lips. "Upstairs," he murmurs.

Frank pulls back and strolls across the kitchen, snagging Grant's bag from the hall and leading the way upstairs. He looks around the room when he gets inside. They're going to need a new dresser at the least, and Frank needs to go through the closet.

"Stop cleaning in your mind," Grant says, stepping up behind him and taking the bag off his shoulder, then leaning down and kissing the back of his neck.

"How did you know?" Frank asks.

"I know you," Grant replies. "The first time you stayed with me, and it involved bringing a bag, you put everything away the moment you got in the room."

"There's nothing wrong with being organized," Frank protests.

"Organize later. Strip now. For me, beautiful?"

"Fine, fine," Frank replies. "So fucking impatient."

"That's my line," Grant says.

"I am being incredibly patient," Frank says.

"Mostly because you know it's turning my crank," Grant says with a raised eyebrow.

"No. That's later," Frank replies and tugs his tie off, then starts unbuttoning his shirt. Grant puts his hands on Frank's hips and watches intently as Frank finishes unbuttoning and then removing his shirt. He leans down to press his lips against the bomb in the center of Frank's chest.

"Been seeing this ink in my sleep for months," he whispers.

"You're all I've been dreaming about, really," Frank says. "Apart from the usual death and destruction."

"Hope I'm not involved in that," Grant says, watching as Frank finishes stripping and reaches for the hem of Grant's shirt.

"Only in really badass ways, I promise," Frank says.

Grant laughs. "Glad to hear it."

Frank pulls Grant's shirt up and over his head. "Not often that I'm the one who starts out in a shirt and tie and you're not."

"I think I like it," Grant murmurs. "Granted, I'd like you wearing a burlap sack," he adds.

"Now who's kinky? Come on, strip. I'll just be over here." Frank goes and sprawls across his bed, smirking. He's so fucking happy he could burst. Grant unbuckles his belt and pushes down his jeans and then his briefs. Frank licks his lips at the sight of Grant's cock. His own pulses and he reaches down to give himself a few lazy strokes.

Grant sits down to deal with his shoes and socks and kicks off the rest of his clothing. He shifts around and lies on his side, leaning on his elbow. "Keep touching yourself," he tells Frank.

"Okay," Frank drawls, stroking a little faster.

"No," Grant whispers, touching the center of Frank's chest. "Slowly." Frank bites his lip and slows his strokes back down. "Yes, just like that," Grant praises. "Fuck, I could watch you all night."

"You'd better not," Frank tells him. "I need you inside me."

"You won't see me arguing," Grant whispers. "But sometime, I want to watch you make yourself come."

"Only if I can do the same," Frank murmurs and runs his thumb over the slit.

"Anything you want."

Grant's fingers are still tracing tattoos on Frank's chest and arms, but start to stray lower. He runs a finger over the letters below Frank's belly button and finally, finally leans down to press his lips to Frank's. Frank sighs. Grant runs his fingers through Frank's hair, holding their lips together until Frank gives up and pulls Grant down with both hands. They both gasp when Grant settles on top of him. "Perfect," Frank whispers and kisses Grant again.

Grant moves his hips slowly against Frank's. Their cocks slide against each other and make Frank gasp into Grant's mouth. "I could do this for hours," Grant tells him.

"Not tonight," Frank says.

"No, love," Grant whispers against his jaw. "Not tonight."

"I want you to fuck me now," Frank tells him. "Please. It's all I've thought about all week." Grant stretches for the lube and a condom. Frank stills his hand. "Can we... I'm clean."

"Me too," Grant says after a moment. "Frank..."

"Please," Frank begs. "Wanna feel all of you."

"So do I." Grant takes a deep breath and picks up the lube. "Get comfortable."

"I am," Frank says and reaches out to stroke Grant's arm.

Grant squeezes his hand and moves down between Frank's spread legs. He pushes Frank's thighs wide and slicks his fingers, pressing in gently with one. Frank watches his face, the way his eyelids go to half mast, how he kisses Frank's thighs.

He adds a second finger and moves them to stroke over Frank's prostate, so slow and deliberate. Frank whines in his throat, and Grant does it again. "You're so tight," Grant tells him. "You'll feel amazing."

"Please," Frank moans.

Grant leans down to kiss the top of his thigh again and adds a third finger. "Soon," he replies. "I don't want to wait either, but we need to finish this, love. I want to slide right in." He thrusts his fingers into Frank until he's completely pliable and relaxed and moving his hips wantonly against Grant's fingers. "Gorgeous," Grant says.

"And ready. Really ready," Frank urges, tugging at Grant. He slicks up his cock, pushes Frank's knees toward his chest, and lines up. He slides in easily, and Frank moans long and loud.

"Missed you," Grant says, "Missed this."

He keeps his cock moving from the start, slow and steady thrusts that spark the perfect amount of friction. Frank reaches up and wraps his hands around the back of Grant's neck and pulls their foreheads together.

"Love you," he gasps.

"I love you, too," Grant murmurs, kissing his eyebrow, cheek, chin, finally his lips.

Frank wraps his legs around Grant's waist and thrusts back against him. "Oh, fuck. Grant, fuck."

"That's it," Grant breathes. "Keep moving. So close."

They move smoothly together. Frank feels so fucking good, and Grant feels so good against him, inside him. Frank leans up and kisses Grant's collarbones, up his neck. Grant reaches between them and closes a hand around Frank's cock, and that's all it takes. He comes hard, clenching around Grant's cock and gasping against his chin. Grant fucks him through it, until his hips are stuttering, and he's moaning in Frank's ear.

"Grant, wanna feel you," Frank groans. "Come on."

"Yes, love, yes. Ye -" He gasps and thrusts hard once more and fuck. Frank can feel him coming.

"Fuck," Frank gasps. "Oh fuck, so good. Missed this."

Grant wraps his arms around Frank, leaning his head on Frank's shoulder until his breathing evens out, and he's too sensitive to stay inside Frank anymore. He pulls out but doesn't move any farther, just kisses Frank's shoulder and up to his lips. Frank kisses him back, kisses until he's dizzy, sleepy, limp with contentment. It's Grant who eventually gets up and returns with a washcloth to clean them up. Frank pulls him back down into his arms as soon as he's done.

"You don't have to leave tomorrow," Frank murmurs happily.

"I have to leave at some point when I run out of clothing," Grant says sleepily. "You should come with me, though. Just for a few days."

"Okay," Frank says. "Wanna meet your family, too."

"Yes, I want to introduce you so very much." Grant tugs the covers up farther and kisses Frank's forehead.

Frank nods. His head is getting foggy. All he can hear or feel is Grant. He fucking loves it. "Sleep now?" he mumbles.

"Sleep, my love," Grant says. "Sleep."

Frank does.

*

Epilogue

Frank makes a latte with perfect foam and hands it to a customer triumphantly. Jessicka has been teaching him how to make espresso drinks. Lindsey tried for about five minutes before swearing at him and telling him to ask Jess if he really wanted to know. "Nice one, Frankie," Jessicka says, patting his cheek. They've been open in their combined location for nine months or so, and no one would let Frank near the espresso machine for about seven. He's finally getting the hang of it all, which makes him feel way more useful now that he can do the whole job, not just the book part.

He washes his hands and is heading back around the coffee counter to go help a customer in the graphic novels section when the door opens, and Grant walks in.

"Hey, Grant," Amy calls from the register.

"Hello, darling. Where's -"

"Hi, baby," Frank grins, heading over for a kiss. Grant kisses him back until Lindsey catcalls, and they pull apart. Frank pulls Grant's bag from his shoulder and walks it back to the office instead. "How was your flight?"

"Terrible. I had a snorer and a sniffler. I probably just gave you all sorts of germs." He smiles, though, and leans against the counter.

"I'll take them," Frank says. "It's good to see you. The cats missed you. And Sweet Pea. Maybe."

Grant smiles. "And I missed all of you."

"How's your mum?" Frank asks a little more seriously.

"Scrappy. Not much worse than last time you saw her, though. She asked when you were coming back again."

"Soon," Frank says.

"That's what I told her. About five times. By the end, I think she remembered," Grant says. "So, anything new planned for the next week that I missed in the time I've been traveling?"

"Gerard and Lindsey are coming over for dinner and movies Sunday evening, but that's normal," Frank says.

"And I got our reservations for San Diego straightened out during my layover in London. You're still good to take a week?"

"Please, take him away," Jessicka jokes from the coffee counter.

Frank flips her off. "Good. I'm fucking excited."

Grant grins. "I'm very happy I'll get to have you there. It'll make the whole thing much more pleasant."

Grant goes and sets up at a cafe table to work. Frank laughs knowing Gerard will probably be in before long to join him. Then there will be no work happening because when the two of them get together, they start talking. Frank's pretty sure they're just gonna give up and start a project together sometime.

His shift is over in a couple hours, and he has pretty grand plans for the evening that involve risotto, wine, and an early bedtime. Grant will set himself back up in his office in Frank's attic tomorrow, and they'll settle back into their routine from there.

Frank loves his life. Loves having Grant with him, loves visiting Grant. And he's learning to live with the times when they're apart. Partly through paying for a comprehensive international package on his phone. Partly because he has awesome friends who he happens to also work with, who make him feel loved even when Grant's away. It all works. Sometimes a little better than others, but it works for them.

He helps a couple more customers, but when he has a free moment, he goes over to Grant's table and drapes himself over Grant's shoulders, leaning down to kiss his cheek. "What was that for?" Grant asks.

"To say thanks for never giving up on me," Frank whispers in his ear.

"Guess what - never will." Grant kisses the back of his hand and picks up his pen.

Frank goes back to the counter with a smile.