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Gerard is nervous about his hair appointment until he walks into the salon, and they're playing Black Flag. He feels weird about going to a salon anyway. His mom's doesn't quite count, and he's been doing DIY dye jobs on his hair since high school. But this time he's doing something truly crazy, and he doesn't want to fuck it up. He asked his mom, and she suggested a friend's niece's new shop because they're just getting started and need business.

She hadn't actually said, "because they'll do crazy hairstyles without blinking," but he figures it's what she meant, considering some of the photography on the walls, and especially considering the guy who greets him when he walks in. His hair is curling around his ears and neck, nothing particularly crazy about it, but he has tons of tattoos on his hands and neck. Probably more than that, judging by what Gerard can see disappearing under his shirt.

"Hi," he says with a friendly smile. "You must be my dye job. Last appointment of the day, dude, so lay it on me. Or, wait, d'you want me to change the music? Water? Coffee? I aim to please."

"Coffee, please," Gerard says.

"Coffee coming right up, Gerard, was it? I think that's what the appointment book said, but Jamia has shitty handwriting when she's rushing."

"Yeah, it's Gerard. Uh. Gerard Way. And don't you dare change the music," he says. Fucking hell, this guy is hot.

"I'm glad you said that because it means we're going to get along," he says. "I'm Frank Iero, and I help run this place." He hands Gerard an actual mug of steaming coffee. "Cream and sugar and shit are right over here," Frank says and points at a little side table. He watches Gerard dump Coffeemate and Splenda into his coffee with a little shudder and a grin. "If you're done mutilating that, come sit in my chair," he says with an eyebrow waggle.

Gerard laughs. "Okay."

Frank directs him to a chair. "So what am I doing?"

"I want red. Like, bright, fucked up red. And maybe an undercut?"

"Define 'fucked up,'" Frank says, but he's already running Gerard's hair through his fingers thoughtfully.

"Never before seen in nature, fucked up," Gerard says. "Fucking red. But not like, candy apple. A little more orange, maybe?"

"I have just the thing. Gonna take a lot of maintenance, you know. You and I, we're gonna get close." He winks and puts a drape around Gerard's neck, then puts a hand on his shoulder. "Sink time."

"I can think of worse fates," Gerard says and follows him to the sink.

"I don't think I can do the full thing today. We'll see how well your hair bleaches, but we might have to leave it alone for a couple of weeks to let it rest before we put the color in," Frank says.

Gerard laughs. He's gonna look like a deranged surfer. "I have this awesome Hawaiian shirt," he says, but Frank just raises an eyebrow.

"Now for the best part." He leans Gerard back and starts wetting down his hair. Frank turns off the water and starts massaging shampoo into Gerard's hair, and Gerard only barely holds in an obscene moan. Yeah, this is definitely the best part. "My shampoo brings all the boys to the yard," Frank says. "Tell me more about yourself, Gerard."

"Um," Gerard says. His brain is completely fucking blank. "I'm an artist. And a writer."

"Fuckin' rad," Frank says. "Anything I'd know?"

"I've done work for both DC and Marvel comics. I'm currently working on my own book for Dark Horse, though," Gerard replies as Frank rinses his hair.

"A comic writer, then. That is fucking rad, Gerard. You are officially the coolest person who's sat in that chair today. Except for Mrs. Russo, but she makes me cookies."

"Old ladies come in here?" Gerard asks.

"Don't you ever let Mrs. Russo hear you say that," Frank scolds. "She is eighty years young and has pink hair."

"Okay, I guess she is cooler than me."

Frank starts applying the peroxide to Gerard's hair. "She is one of the most badass ladies I know, apart from my family," Frank says. "But I love comics, so that's pretty cool, too."

Frank is fast with the bleach, and Gerard is a little surprised when he taps the back of Gerard's chair and leads him to sit under the hair dryer for a few minutes. While the peroxide does its thing, and the dryer roars in his ears, Gerard watches Frank bustle around the shop, cleaning and, apparently, singing along with the music. He's… really ridiculously hot. Is the thing. And he has good taste in music and likes comics and Gerard is trying to think of a smooth way to ask for his number. His actual number, not his business number.

Frank comes over and rubs at his hair with a gloved finger a few times and hums. Finally he seems satisfied with the bleaching and pats Gerard on the shoulder before releasing him from the dryer. He gets Gerard back under the water to rinse and starts talking again as if he never stopped. "So, any titles I'd know? Since starting this place up, I'm really fucking behind, but I always catch up eventually."

"I've done pages and fill-ins for a ton of books, dude," Gerard says, "but my book for Dark Horse is called Umbrella Academy. I, ah, won an Eisner for that one."

"Get the fuck out," Frank says and thumps him on the shoulder. "That's fucking awesome. I'll have to get myself a copy. I remember hearing about it, I think. But like I said, behind."

"So this is, like, a new shop, right? What made you get into, you know..." Gerard waves his hand around under the drape.

"Man, this was never anything I expected to do. I expected to be in a band touring the country at this point. But I started cutting everyone's hair and dyeing it and got pretty good, so one day we just said fuck it and went to beauty school," Frank explains.

"That sounds pretty Fifties," Gerard says, and Frank laughs.

"Grease, man. Beauty School Dropout. Should I start wearing pink satin? J would laugh for fuckin' days."

"I think you could totally rock pink satin," Gerard says with a grin.

Frank massages conditioner into Gerard's hair and sits in the chair opposite him. "I'm letting that stay on for a few minutes, and then you're gonna need to do a deep condition at least twice between now and when we do the color," Frank says. "And you're right. I would totally rock one of those jackets. I didn't drop out, though. We both got our licenses and started working right away. Trust me, you're in fully educated hands."

Gerard laughs. "Well, until now, I was in my own hands, mostly, so you're definitely an improvement."

Frank cackles. "Come on, time to rinse." Frank rinses him and towels off his hair, then pulls him toward the chair. "Okay, Blondie. I am going to give you a small bottle of my special conditioner out of the goodness of my heart, and if you don't use it, I'll know," Frank says threateningly.

He takes the blow dryer to Gerard's hair then, so all Gerard can do is nod in agreement. The dryer feels nice too, but Frank doesn't fuss over his hair, just dries it and brushes it out of his face.

"I hate to send people out of here unfinished, Blondie," Frank says, "so l am gonna look forward to seeing you again in two weeks. Hold on," Frank says and reaches for a little tub of some kind of goop, gets a little on his fingers and then runs them through Gerard's hair. "There. Now you're done."

"Should I make an appointment now? Or I can call later?"

"Now's fine," Frank says, snagging a phone from the counter and bringing up the calendar app. "J insists. Rather have a paper one. How about the 15th, Gerard? Same time?"

"That works," Gerard replies. "I'll see you then."

Frank grins at him. "Looking forward to it."

Gerard walks out to his car, smiling. Then swears softly. Well, he has another chance to get Frank's number in two weeks, anyway.

*

He's sure the time is going to drag, but he has deadlines and family dinners. It's actually a surprise when it's the fifteenth, and his phone reminds him of the appointment in the morning. He's been teased about his blond hair by countless people over the past two weeks, but somehow every time, he just hears Frank calling him Blondie with a smile in his voice.

When Gerard walks into the salon, Frank is blowing someone's hair out. He flips off the blow dryer and calls out, "Hey, Gerard. Take a seat, or help yourself to some coffee. Almost done here."

Gerard pours himself a cup of coffee and waits while Frank finishes and rings up his customer. There's a woman shampooing another customer, and Gerard thinks she might be Jamia, his mom's friend's niece. She's talking, but he can't quite hear what about over the water and the music - Bouncing Souls, today.

"You're up, Gerard," Frank says. Gerard grins and follows Frank toward the sinks. When he sits, Frank immediately puts his fingers into Gerard's hair. "Ooh, you were good and conditioned like I told you to," he says and starts the spray.

"I aim to please," Gerard says.

"We do like to hear that," the other stylist says, transferring her customer to the other chair.

"J, this is Gerard," Frank introduces. "And today, we're fucking up his hair."

"Ooh, your favorite. Hi, Gerard. I'm Jamia. You're Donna's son, right?"

"Yup," Gerard replies.

"And why are you here and not letting your mom do your hair?" she asks as she parts and clips the hair of the woman in the chair in front of her.

"Mom's not all about the day-glo hair dye," Gerard says and shrugs. Then Frank turns the water on and Gerard can't concentrate on anything but the head massage.

"Okay, Blondie. You're not gonna be Blondie anymore. I think I got the perfect mix, but I'll let you choose." Frank pulls out what is clearly a homemade hair dye sample card with little locks of hair and everything, and Gerard wants to die. It's so charming and adorable.

"Well, now I know why he was up all night putting that together," Jamia says. "Better pick the right one, he's really stubborn."

Gerard glances over at her and then back to the board. They all look great. Gerard takes it and holds it in his lap and runs his fingers over each. He finally decides. "That one," he says and points to the one on the far right.

"You pass." Frank grins at him and goes over to the counter to mix the dye. Gerard grins. He's been excited about this since he decided to do it, and now it's happening. He is definitely going to get Frank's number this time.

Frank chatters more this time, a running conversation that involves Jamia, her customer, and Gerard and covers everything from jazz to pizza. Then Gerard goes under the dryer again and is practically vibrating with impatience to see his hair. Frank refuses to rush, though. He does several strand tests and makes these stupidly adorable dissatisfied faces and wanders off again, leaving Gerard to stare at his ass and pretend to be texting.

Jamia's customer leaves, and she starts to sweep up. Gerard watches for a while as the two of them criss-cross the shop. They are clearly in tune, and Gerard wonders how long they've known each other. Jamia is just as fucking gorgeous as Frank. She keeps leaning over to clean and her shirt - well. Gerard needs to get out from under this dryer because he needs a glass of water. Excellent fucking salon, fuck. Thank you, Mom.

Fucking finally, Frank comes over and makes a happy face at Gerard's hair, then pulls the plastic off his head and starts rinsing. "Shit, this is a great color," Frank says.

"I want to -"

"Yeah, yeah," Frank cuts him off. "I am so tempted to do the TV no-mirror thing with you because this is going to be fucking hot with the cut."

"I think steam would start coming out of his ears if you tried that," Jamia says.

"Might be worth it," Frank replies with a teasing grin. "I guess I have to start calling you Red now," Frank says, helping Gerard back into the swivel chair and unwinding the towel from his hair.

"Holy fuck," Gerard breathes.

"Just wait until I'm done," Frank says. He strips off his gloves and throws them away, then reaches up to his neck and takes a chain off and Gerard has no idea what he's doing. And then he pulls a ring off the necklace and puts it on his ring finger on his left hand.

Oh.

"Look, J, I didn't turn my hands red!" he crows.

Jamia laughs. "Like you wouldn't have enjoyed that, dumbass. I would have had to deal with movie monster impressions for days."

"Whatever, you like my movie monster impressions," he says and grabs her hand to pull her in for a kiss.

Oh.

She swats him, but she's laughing as she goes over to the front desk. "Sorry, Red," Frank adds, coming back to Gerard's chair and running his fingers through Gerard's hair. "Damn. Let me admire this for a second. Now...did you say undercut?"

"I… yeah. Undercut," Gerard says. He feels stupid and kind of breathless.

"Damn, that will be hot," Frank says and starts combing Gerard's hair out and clipping the top up. It feels strange to have Frank hovering so close to him, concentrating on keeping a steady hand with the clippers. It feels really strange to have any part of his head buzzed after having long hair for so long. And it feels just damn good when Frank finishes and runs his fingers over the freshly-clipped hair. He swallows hard and looks up at Frank in the mirror.

Frank flashes a smile at Gerard, grabs the blow dryer and starts blowing his hair out. When he's done, he puts more of the goop from last time in it and runs his fingers through Gerard's hair, then stands in front of him to fiddle with the part before moving behind him again.

"Damn. I am good, and you are ridiculously hot," Frank says.

"I like how you led with the ego," Jamia says from the desk. "He's not wrong, though," she tells Gerard. "On either count."

Gerard chews on his lip and runs his hand through his hair. "Shit, I feel like I could take on the entire fucking world and win right now."

"That's what you look like, too," Frank says, and fuck it, Gerard is not imagining the admiring once-over. "Go pay the lovely Jamia, and if you want to schedule a touch-up while..."

"How long?" Gerard asks.

He's kind of bummed when Frank says, "Probably about a month."

Gerard can't help it if his eyes flick over to Frank a couple times as he pays and waits for his credit card slip. He leaves a nice tip with Jamia, who grins. "If you want to show off the new 'do at all, come out to our buddies' gig this weekend," she says, handing him a flyer.

Gerard laughs. "Of course. I am ninety seven percent certain I was gonna get dragged to that anyway. I'll definitely be there now."

"Oh yeah?" Frank asks, coming over and leaning on the desk. "By who?"

"My brother. He knows these guys, I'm pretty sure."

"Mikey Way, from Eyeball," Jamia adds, nudging Frank's arm. "Don't you remember, we had this conversation."

"Right, right," Frank says. "I remember that kid. One of the few who didn't let me do his hair."

"His hair," Gerard groans. "Don't talk about it. I've tried to forget how much time he spent in our fucking bathroom with the flatiron." They both laugh, and Gerard waves the flyer. "Well, see you around. Thanks again."

Now that the two of them are standing together, Gerard can tell they're together. And if they're both hot individually, next to each other it's kind of overwhelming. He's glad he might see them on the weekend, though. Hot like burning or not, they're awesome, and he wants to hang out with them.

When he gets back in his car, he pulls out his phone and dials Mikey. "Guess what?" he says when Mikey picks up. "We're going to that New London Fire gig this weekend."

"This is not how this conversation usually goes," Mikey observes.

"Yeah, I. It's a long story?"

"I have time," Mikey says.

Gerard sighs.

 

***

 

Jamia watches Frank watch Gerard walk out the door. She smiles and rolls her eyes when he catches her looking. "It's been a while since you had a crush on a boy," she says.

"Jamia, I am not fourteen. I don't have crushes. I appreciate people. Platonically."

"Uh-huh," she replies, slides a hand into his hair and leans in to kiss him.

When she pulls back again, Frank is gasping for breath. "See? How could I have a crush when I have you here to kiss me like that all the time?"

"Because I am awesome, but I am also not a hot guy with a seriously badass haircut?" Jamia suggests gently. Frank shrugs.

"He's hot, and he's pretty awesome, and I would like to get to know him better, but I've got you. I don't need anything else."

Jamia kisses him again. "Okay, babe. Let's go home, the doggies are probably destroying the back door." She shakes her head behind his back as he locks up. He doesn't seem to get the concept that he's allowed to have crushes. She knows it stems from the fact that he got burned in relationships before her, and she can't deny that his devotion to her is amazing and something she absolutely cherishes, but he takes it further than he has to.

Frank feeds the dogs when they get home while Jamia starts to defrost a Tupperware full of leftover lentil stew. It's easier to do leftovers when they're both closing. She knows they're going to be able to hire some part-timers eventually, but for now.... Well, thank goodness they work well together.

She's just put a pan of mixed veggies in the oven to roast when he wraps around her from behind. "Hey, gorgeous," he murmurs into her hair. She leans back against him.

"Hey."

"Love you," he says.

She puts her hands on top of his and squeezes. "Love you, too. You doing okay?" she asks. "You've been picking up a lot of slack lately while I do the tax stuff."

"I'm good. Should be asking you that. Tax stuff is a fucking nightmare," Frank says.

"There's a reason I am in charge of the checkbook, babe," she replies, leaning back to kiss his cheek. "Beer and DVR while this stuff cooks?"

"Sounds perfect," Frank says and pulls away to grab a couple of cans from the fridge. They go into the living room and settle into the couch. He swings his feet up and slides his toes under her thigh.

She picks Iron Chef because she knows that's what Frank will ask for. This is what they do most nights since they decided to do the whole responsible citizen/business owner thing. Fucking weird. "It'll be nice to see a show this weekend," Jamia says, although that's pretty much their favorite date night activity already.

"Fuck yeah, it will," he says as Mama hops up into his lap. "It'll be good to see everyone, too."

"Yep," she agrees. "And you will get drunk and handsy, and I will drive you home and ravish you, and then we are closed the next day." She's looking forward to it. Frank makes breakfast on Sundays, and she makes a big dinner, and their house just fills up steadily throughout the day. It's sort of the best.

They stay open every other Saturday, but they always take Sundays off because it's so important to both of them. James once teased that Sundays at their house are more of a religious experience than going to church ever was. Jamia had just snorted because seriously, but she gets the sentiment. Also, James was probably high when he said it. They do have the whole fellowship and spending time with loved ones thing down pretty well. She wonders what Frank's planning for dinner and makes a mental note to ask tomorrow, so they can go shopping if necessary.

She reaches over and scratches behind Mama's ears and lets her hand rest on Frank's knee instead of drawing all the way back. They have a pretty damn good life. Things at the salon could be better, but they're mostly breaking even every month and starting to get more business as word spreads.

When the oven timer goes off, Frank squeezes her fingers. "Let's eat out here. Sit, and I'll get it." He deposits Mama in her arms and gets up. He returns a few minutes later with bowls of stew and veggies and bread. They eat and make fun of the dishes on Iron Chef, and it's a nice, nice evening.

*

Jamia has lunch with her mom on Thursday and has to run Sweet Pea to the vet on Friday, and Saturday is so busy they practically leave little cartoon dust trails around the salon. They get all their shopping and chores done before they have to get ready for the show, though, and Frank does his magic to Jamia's hair that somehow makes it look like she hasn't had it up in a messy bun all day. She puts on her favorite skirt and a nice top and some boots and feels pretty damn great.

The first person she sees when she walks in the door is Shayna. "Hi," she grins.

"Hey, gorgeous," Shayna replies and gives her a hug and a kiss on the cheek. "How're you doing tonight?"

"Tired - hope it doesn't show." She poses for a second, and Shayna laughs.

"Hot stuff. Speaking of hot stuff, where's your other half?"

"He…" Jamia looks around the room. "He's over there," she points. "Talking to Hambone, Shaun, and… Mikey Way."

"That dude looks familiar," Shayna says.

"He used to work for Eyeball. Had hair like a bird's nest. We did his brother's hair this week. Gerard. He's supposed to be around here somewhere. Frank has a big, gay crush on him," Jamia explains.

"Oh yeah?" Shayna says casually, but they both know she knows what Jamia's not saying. "Poke me if he shows up. I need to see this."

"He's like, wicked hot," Jamia confirms. "Frank usually has good taste. Hey, how's your mom doing? Her appointment was this week, wasn't it?"

"She's okay. Appointment went well. Still waiting on some test results," she says.

Jamia squeezes her hand. "Let me know."

"Jamia?" a voice behind her says. She turns, and there's Gerard with his hair, wearing a leather jacket, and looking really, stupidly hot. Maybe Frank isn't the only one with a crush.

"Gerard, hi," she says with a grin. Shayna is making really big eyes behind him, and Jamia smiles like, I know, right?

"Good to see you, Jamia," he replies with a sweet smile. She introduces Shayna.

"How are you? Still like your hair?" she asks.

"I'm great, and I fuckin' love my hair. Little kids and old ladies seem bizarrely drawn to it, though," Gerard replies with a big grin.

"Are you sure it's not just you?" she asks. His cheeks flush just a tiny bit, but he gets this cocky smile on his face and shrugs dramatically. Jamia laughs. "Yeah, that's what I thought."

"Jamia," she hears Frank call her and watches Gerard's head swivel. He's walking up to them, and he loops an arm around Jamia's waist and says, "Hey, Gerard."

"Hi, Frank," Gerard says. His blush doesn't go away. "So, I realized that the reason I don't let Mikey drag me out to these things is that I don't actually fuckin’ know that many people anymore. So basically, you're stuck with me."

"We're big on adopting strays," Jamia says when it appears Frank isn't going to.

Gerard smiles. "Somehow, I'm not at all surprised." He runs a hand through his hair, strokes for just a second at the shaved parts behind his ear, and looks around the room. "Anyone else playing tonight that I might know?"

"I don't think any of us older kids have a foot in this ring tonight," Frank says. "I've seen both openers play, though, and they're decent little bands."

"Frank has awesome taste in music," Shayna tells Gerard.

"Oh, I know. I've been to the salon, remember?" He ruffles his hair again. Actually, Jamia is pretty sure he can't keep his hands out of it. It's sort of mesmerizing.

"You should schedule a touch-up for a Saturday sometime," Jamia says. "He calls it Saturjazz. Plays all the classic stuff."

"You are my new favorite person," Gerard says solemnly.

Frank giggles. "I'm pretty awesome, it's true. But seriously, there's nothing better than Bitches Brew on a Saturday afternoon. Nothing. Except maybe a live show Saturday night." He grins at them all. "Who's coming in the pit with me?"

"Not me," Shayna says.

"I need a Coke or something," Jamia says.

"I guess that leaves me," Gerard says. "It's been… a while since I was in a pit. I'm going to blame the hair." Frank laughs delightedly and tugs him toward the floor. Jamia is pretty sure that while maybe the hair is making him feel a little bolder, it's mostly down to Frankie. She goes over to the bar for a Coke, Shayna trailing her.

When they snag a couple barstools, Shayna tilts her head. "Jesus, J, you weren't kidding."

"I was really not kidding," Jamia says and takes a sip of her Coke.

"He seems really nice, though," she says.

"He is," Jamia replies. "And he's a comic artist and author, so that makes him smart and talented in addition to being too pretty for words."

"Well, I'm single," says Shayna. "Too bad I'm not a dude."

Jamia laughs. "I dunno, I caught him checking out my rack a couple of times."

"You have a great rack. Even the gayest dude in the world couldn't help but admire its magnificence," Shayna says seriously. Jamia laughs and punches her in the arm.

"And this is why we're friends."

Jamia chats with Shayna for a while, but eventually the guys emerge from the pit and wherever the rest of them had been and order a couple rounds. Frank settles against her side, and Gerard stands close. He's sweaty and disheveled and somehow even hotter. Jamia doesn't get it. Then again, Frank is sweaty and disheveled and tipsy and absolutely beaming, and she sort of wants to take him into some back room right now. But he's having fun, and she likes to wait until he can't any longer, until all he can see is her. But he's nuzzling her neck, and she can't fucking resist that, ever. It's hard to concentrate on the conversation.

Gerard starts telling a story and the second he mentions Grant Morrison, half the people in their little circle perk the fuck up. It's kind of hilarious. Shaun in particular is giving Gerard the big eyes. Jamia hides a little smile and just listens. He tells a story about Grant Morrison and Comic-Con, and everyone is basically dying with laughter by the end. Jamia knows in that moment that Gerard is in their lives to stay. She's pretty okay with it.

The rest of the evening pretty much goes as expected, right down to a tipsy Frank handing her the car keys with a wicked smile. They say their goodbyes and make sure to tell Gerard they're glad he came. Jamia is pretty sure they'll see him again before his touch-up appointment.

Frank is all up in her business the entire way home. "Did you have a nice time, babe?" she asks cheerfully.

"I had a fucking excellent time," he says. "And now I want to give you an excellent fucking."

"Clever," she says. "Very clever. I guess I can get behind that."

"Behind it, in front of it, wherever you fuckin' want," Frank says, hand on her thigh, just under her skirt. She laughs, but yeah. She's ready to he home.

They have to let the dogs out when they get home, but soon enough she's hurrying up the stairs with Frank at her heels. When they get into the bedroom and get the door shut behind them, Frank grabs her hips and pulls her to him. He rubs up against her and then spins her around and pins her against the door. Jamia laughs.

"Frisky."

She runs her fingers through Frank's hair, then hooks a finger in his shirt collar and tugs. He's smiling when their lips touch, and she slides her tongue over his bottom lip. He moans, and she hooks an ankle around his leg. Frank runs his hand up her thigh, rucking up her skirt. He's fucked her right up against this wall before, but she's sort of hoping he's in the mood for more tonight. She's been wet for hours. He swears when his hand hits her underwear, but she knows he'll appreciate it when he sees it. She went for the lacy boy shorts that make her ass look amazing.

"Clothes need to be off right fucking now," he says.

"You first," she says firmly, sitting down to unzip her boots. He pulls his jacket off and throws it in the direction of the desk chair, then pulls his t-shirt over his head. He took his shoes off when he came in the door, so he just shimmies out of his tight jeans and pulls off his socks. Jamia smiles up at him and pulls her boots off. She's not wearing stockings, just socks, and when she gets those off she makes herself comfortable and spreads her legs. "I have a job for you," she murmurs.

"I like it when you give me jobs," he murmurs and reaches for the zip of her skirt. He gets it undone and tugs it down her thighs. When he sees her panties, he moans. "Fuck, you know I love those."

"Yes, I do," she replies. "Why do you think I wore them?"

"Because you like them?" he replies, and she smirks fondly. She has him trained well. Especially when his next move is to drop to his knees and nuzzle her thigh.

He nudges her legs apart even farther and runs his tongue over the fabric covering her clit. She moans, and he hooks his fingers around the waistband and tugs the fabric down. Jamia moans again when his mouth returns, hot and eager. He fucking loves this, and she loves the way he looks after, hair tousled and lips wet and swollen. He's clearly not in a teasing mood tonight because he's doing all the things that are guaranteed to make her come hard and fast. He's sucking hard and reaching up with one hand to roll her nipple between his thumb and forefinger and using his other to fuck into her with two fingers.

"Frank, holy fuck," she gasps, leaning on her elbows and letting her head fall back too. She tugs her shirt down and with it the cup of her bra so that Frank's fingers can really do their magic. She doesn't give a fuck if she stretches it at the moment. He's already got her so close, and she whines and pushes her hips up against his mouth until he sucks harder and sends her over the edge.

Before Jamia can even catch her breath, he's crawling up the mattress and leaning down to kiss her hard and sloppy. She moans into his mouth, and they kiss until she can't stand it anymore and sits up. She pulls her shirt off and unsnaps her bra and tosses both away. She pulls him against her and kisses him again. "Fuck me now," she whispers. "Frankie..."

"Yeah," he groans, reaching down to rub the head of his cock against her pussy. They both groan as he slides in, and Jamia wraps her legs around him. He buries his face in her neck and starts thrusting. Fuck, he feels good. He kisses down her neck to latch his lips around one of her nipples, and she moans and arches up.

"Feels good," she gasps.

"You're perfect," he murmurs against her breast. "I am so lucky."

Jamia sinks a hand into his hair, holding his head to her breast, panting as he thrusts, harder and more erratically but still at the right angle for her, and Frank whines and reaches between them to rub her clit. She moans again and clenches around him. She's going to come again really easily. It takes just a few more thrusts of his cock and the slide of his fingers, and she starts coming right before he goes over the edge and thrusts hard into her one last time.

Frank groans, and she gasps his name, clutching at his shoulders as he freezes and comes in a hot rush. He mashes his face between her breasts and breathes hard. Her cunt is pulsing, and she knows it will get to be too much for him soon, but for right now, she loves the feeling of him.

"I love you," Frank whispers before he rolls off of her, tucking himself against her side instead.

"Love you, too," she murmurs and runs her fingers through his hair. "So damn much."

He reaches down to pull the covers over them both, and she drifts off with her head on his shoulder, thinking about how they're both lucky.

 

***

 

Frank loves Sundays. They are, by far, his favorite day of the week. They fuck slow and lazy in the morning, then Jamia makes waffles, and they take the dogs for a long walk before Frank starts dinner. Jamia sits on the couch and reads, her feet tucked under a blanket - and Mama, who can't resist blankets - and Frank glances at her from the kitchen every so often.

"Any company coming?" Jamia asks after a while.

"I think Shaun for sure? His wife and kids are at grandma's. I kind of invited everyone, so... we'll either have leftovers for the whole week or any number of people. Sorry," Frank replies sheepishly. Jamia laughs. At least she's tolerant of his tendency to throw around invitations when drunk.

Frank thinks probably Mikey Way won't come - he's a pretty chill kid but they're just not that close - but he really hopes Gerard will. Maybe it was a little weird to invite a dude he only just met to their Sunday dinner, but he definitely has a massive friend crush on Gerard. And he just… mixed with all their friends really fucking well.

He sits at the kitchen counter to look through some mail and taps his phone restlessly. He'd copied Gerard's phone number out of the shop's contact list. He feels sort of weird about it, but he also sort of wants to call and repeat the invitation. Just in case. He finally just squares his shoulders and hits send. Gerard doesn't answer, and Frank grimaces but leaves a voicemail. "Hi Gerard, this is Frank. Just wanted to… tell you that I hope we see you for dinner. You weren't, like, included in the invite just because you were there. We'd totally love to have you." Jamia raises an eyebrow at him when he hangs up.

"Don't have a crush, my ass," she says, then goes back to her book.

Frank makes a face at her. "Okay, maybe a little one. He's really awesome!"

She looks up at him again, totally fucking amused. "I'm not arguing, babe."

Frank pulls a face at her and goes back to Musician's Friend. He's totally thinking about how hot his wife was in bed last night and not about crashing around in the pit with a sweaty, crazy-haired redhead. A timer goes off, and he checks his oven and transfers something else inside. His phone rings, and the display reads "Gerard." Frank answers immediately. "Hello?"

"Frank, got your message. I - thanks, it was nice of you to call."

"Like I said, if you can make it, we'd love it," Frank says and bites his lip. He really hopes Gerard says yes.

"Okay, I'd like that. Directions?" Frank smiles to himself and recites them.

"So he'll be here?" Jamia asks.

"Yup," Frank replies.

"Good," she says and smiles at him. "I thought to myself last night, 'Yeah, this guy is here to stay.'"

Frank smiles back, drops the catalog on the counter, and goes to give her a kiss. "Dunno how I landed the best girl in Jersey, but I thank every fucking deity for it every day," Frank murmurs against her lips.

"You're an atheist," Jamia points out.

"I was speaking figuratively, but maybe I should do that just in case because seriously, the other shoe could drop, and then where would I be?" Frank asks.

"Up a creek," she laughs.

"Totally fucked," he nods. The timer goes off again, and he kisses her quickly before going to check on the food.

Shaun comes over around four and slumps on the couch. "Don't tell me you're still hung over," Frank says.

"Not... horribly," Shaun replies.

Frank laughs at him and pats his shoulder. "Hopefully a good meal will cure your ills."

"Your lack of one is annoying," Shaun says.

"I drank my share of water before I went to bed," Frank says. "Also, I didn't hit the whiskey like you, just had a few beers throughout the night."

"And sweated it out in the pit," Jamia adds.

"And fucking you," Frank says with a big grin.

"Ugh, you guys are disgusting," Shaun complains. "My wife won't be home for days." Frank mimes jerking off, and Shaun flips him the bird. "Anyone else coming?" Shaun asks.

"Gerard. Dunno about anyone else," Frank replies.

Shaun makes an appalled face. "Gerard Way is going to be here, and I'm hung over. Great."

"Oh my god," Jamia says. "Both of you."

"He's a fucking incredible author and artist. Dude has won Eisners," Shaun says.

Frank covers a smile. Okay, Jamia has a point. "Hey, does that mean you have his stuff, and I can borrow it?" Frank asks.

"No," Shaun replies. "Because you will try to steal it. Go get your own."

"I can't believe you would disrespect me in my own house," Frank laments.

"Whatever, dude. It would happen. He's that good," Shaun says. Shaun likes to write, so he would know.

When the doorbell rings, Frank realizes they have been talking about Gerard for, like, half an hour. Gerard is standing on the doorstep with a bright blue hoodie on and his hands in the pockets. He grins when he sees Frank. "So, I realized when I was parking that maybe I should have brought a bottle of wine or something?"

"Don't worry about it, Gerard," Frank says. "I know you don't really drink." Gerard smiles, and Frank tugs him inside. "Unless someone else shows up, it's just you, me, Jamia, and Shaun tonight."

"And me the only single guy in the room," Gerard says.

"Shaun's totally single for the next few days," Frank says.

"Yeah, my wife and kids abandoned me for the in-laws," Shaun says with a grimace.

"I'll always feed you," Jamia says, ruffling his hair.

"Hey," Frank protests, "I cooked this time."

"Semantics," Jamia says with a smile. "Hi, Gerard. Glad you could come. Frank cooked for an army, so really, you're doing us a favor."

Gerard smiles brightly at her. "As long as I'm saving you from the fate of eating the same leftovers for a week."

"You are," she assures him.

"C'mon, Gerard. Help me get the food on the table. We'll give Mister Hangover here a break," Frank says.

Shaun makes an embarrassed face, but Gerard laughs. "How many kids do you have? Two? Dude, you deserve a weekend to yourself every once in a while. Even if it ends in a hangover."

Shaun smiles sheepishly. "I suppose so."

Gerard follows Frank into the kitchen, and Frank hands him a stack of plates and the silverware. "Set the table?" he asks.

"Yes, sir," Gerard says with a smartass little grin. He does as he's told, and Frank puts oven mitts on his hands, pulls out the casserole dish, and walks toward the table. He gets it set down on the potholder in the center of the table, then both he and Gerard turn toward the kitchen at the same time and bump into each other. Gerard's hands fly out to steady himself, and he laughs when he notices he's got his hand on Frank's waist and shoulder. "May I have this dance?" he asks.

"I haven't danced like that since I left Catholic school," Frank says automatically, crowding closer.

"Cousin's wedding," Gerard says and waltzes Frank into the kitchen. "Last year. It was terrible. Didn't help that I was related to most of the attractive people there." He sighs dramatically. Frank laughs at him. "Mocking my pain is not nice," Gerard says and dips him back.

"Mocking other people's trauma is my thing, Gerard. Don't try to take away my thing."

Frank's starting to feel a little warm. Gerard pulls him back up and then pulls away. He's grinning and… maybe blushing? Frank can't tell.

"Fine, fine."

"And hey, you've got at least one move to make the girls week in the knees," Frank points out.

"What about the boys?" Gerard asks.

"Oh, I'm shaky. But mostly because I haven't eaten in like, a million years," Frank deflects.

"Can't have that," Gerard says. Frank smiles at him. In truth, he is feeling a little weak in the knees. Gerard helps him get the rest of the food on the table, and he calls for the other two to come into the dining room.

Jamia slips her hand into his and leans in to kiss his cheek. "Looks great, babe."

Frank beams at her. "Thanks."

Frank sits and pushes his sleeves up his elbows, and they pass around dishes. Everyone is quiet for a while apart from some pleases and thank yous. Frank catches Gerard's eyes on his arms, on his tattoos, but waits to see what he'll do.

"Who are they?" he asks after a few minutes.

"My grandmothers. Amazing fucking women. Both of them died in the last couple of years."

Gerard makes a sympathetic face. "I lost my grandmother a few years back, too. She was my biggest supporter, taught me to sing and draw and -" he stops. "So sorry."

Frank smiles and reaches out to squeeze his hand. "Mine were pretty huge inspirations for me in a lot of ways, and I wanted to do something. Tattoos seemed appropriate. For me."

"They're really lovely," Gerard says.

Frank laughs. "They're nice ink. Can't say all of mine are so nice."

"I bet they're all interesting, though," Gerard says.

Frank laughs again. "I don't know about that. I mean, I got the Air Jordan logo tattooed on my leg."

"That's totally interesting, though," Gerard says earnestly. "Now I know you like basketball."

"It's like a cheat sheet," Shaun puts in.

"If he's naked," Jamia adds with a wicked smirk.

"I don't want to know about the ones I've never seen," Shaun says warningly.

"I do," Gerard says. "Wait. I." He makes big innocent eyes at Jamia. She laughs, big and loud, and Frank grins at her.

"I suppose I can let it slide," she says.

After dinner Gerard offers to clean up, and Jamia dispatches Shaun to help him. The two of them start talking comics, and that lasts for what seems like hours. It's all interesting stuff. Frank doesn't know half the shit they talk about, despite considering himself a pretty big comics geek.

"Grant is like… one of my very best friends now. Sometimes I step back and think about that, and it's so fucking weird, for a kid from fucking Jersey," Gerard says as they're winding down and settling back in the living room.

Shaun just shakes his head. "Amazing."

Frank smiles. "People are people, right?"

"Yeah. And Grant's like… the sweetest guy. He and his wife have helped me a lot. He's not spouting genius all the time."

"Still sounds amazing," says Shaun.

"Good friends always are," Gerard replies.

"Isn't that the fucking truth," Jamia says. "So, we know lots of stuff about you, but now for the most important question: what are your feelings on The Princess Bride?"

"That's the most important question?" Gerard laughs.

"It is when it's the next movie in the Sunday Night Movies of Our Childhood rotation," Frank says.

"I love it," Gerard says. "It's one of my favorite movies. I watch it a lot when I'm… you know that weird homesick feeling where you're fucking home, but nothing feels quite right? I watch it then. Makes me feel better."

"It's my favorite," Jamia says. "Always. Even if people do accuse Frank and me of being Max and Valerie."

"Do they?" Gerard asks, flicking a glance at Frank.

"Apparently we bicker a lot," Frank replies airily. "Whatever. She'll always be my Buttercup."

Jamia laughs. "Who says I'm Buttercup?"

"I'm the one who'd do anything for you," Frank says.

"And I wouldn't for you?" she asks him. And it's ridiculous, but he totally has to reach out and take her hand and kiss her cheek. Then he ruins the moment by laughing. Because seriously.

"We definitely bicker more than Wesley and Buttercup."

"You're bickering right now," Shaun points out calmly.

Jamia rolls her eyes. "Yeah, yeah. So who's putting in the movie?"

"Me," Frank says, then stops with his hand on Gerard's shoulder. "So you are staying, right?"

Gerard looks up at him and smiles. "Wouldn't miss it."

Shaun falls asleep about fifteen minutes into the movie, and while Jamia tosses a throw blanket over him, Frank looks at Gerard. "This is a standing invitation, by the way. If you can take the excitement," he adds dryly.

Gerard smiles at him, wide and sweet. "Thanks."

"We always have dinner and movies, and there's always at least one other person here. Come whenever you can or want to," Frank says. He really hope Gerard takes them up on it.

"That's awesome. I think my family is doing a thing next Sunday, but I'll definitely be back," Gerard says.

Jamia shushes them. "I like this part." Then, to Frank's amusement, she starts doing the dialogue and Gerard jumps right in with her. By the end, they're just grinning at each other and not watching the movie at all. Frank feels completely content.

*

The next week is busy, and when they finally get to Sunday, Frank finds that he does miss Gerard's presence in undefinable ways. He sends a text that evening just saying hello and is surprised when he gets an invitation to meet up for coffee that week.

Frank grins at his phone and agrees immediately.

Jamia too, if you both can make it, Gerard texts.

I'll check, Frank writes back. "Wanna go get coffee with Gerard sometime this week?" he asks.

"Sure, that'd be fun. We could do most mornings, or we're closed Friday."

He calls Gerard. "We're both in, for a morning. How about Wednesday?"

Gerard says, "I, ah...new comic day?" He sounds sheepish.

Frank grins. "I think we'd both be willing to do coffee and comics."

"Oh, good. I mean. Yeah. That will be fun."

"I'm going to buy your comics," Frank warns him cheerfully. "And make you sign them right there in the store."

Gerard giggles in his ear. "Sounds good, Frankie."

"And J will buy the next volume of Akira because we've been trying to collect the new trades," he says.

"I'm not signing that," Gerard says. "But maybe I'll do some fan art for her before Sunday. You know. Instead of wine." Frank can practically hear his smile. Fuck, this dude is adorable.

"Oh my god, dude. She would love that. I would love that," Frank says.

"Okay, it's a date," Gerard replies. "Two, I guess. Um, that is..."

Frank laughs. "It's cool, dude. See you then."

"Yeah, see you, Frankie," Gerard replies, and they hang up. Frank can't help sneaking a glance at Jamia, but she's just smiling and working on a shopping list. They have a bunch of shit to accomplish over the next week, and it's going to be busy at the salon. Frank is suddenly feeling a lot better about it all.

Meeting Gerard for coffee and comics is so much fun that Frank is considering making it a weekly standing thing, too. It might hurt his wallet a little, though, because as it turns out, Gerard's comic is amazing. Frank reads the entire series in between customers at the salon that afternoon.

Gerard really does bring Jamia Akira fan art on Sunday, too. The next day, they go to Michaels and get it framed and have it hung on their wall by noon. It's pretty fucking badass. Then Jamia takes her turn with Gerard's books, and Frank enjoys watching her face as she reads.

"I take back the mocking of you and Shaun," she says when she finishes.

"Hah," Frank replies, but his smile is for real and so is hers when he plucks the trade out of her hands and pulls her into his lap. "Hey, gorgeous girl," he murmurs in her ear.

She kisses down the line of his jaw. "Hi," she murmurs against his throat.

"Feel free to keep doing that," he tells her, tipping his head back, so she can get at the ink over his collarbones.

"Gladly," she says and tugs at the neckline of his shirt and slides her tongue over his adam's apple and into the hollow of his throat.

"J," he sighs, stroking fingers through her hair. "I love you."

"I know," she replies, and they spend the rest of the afternoon demonstrating how much.

 

***

 

It takes Gerard two months and at least twice-weekly hangouts with the Ieros to realize things are not only going in an inconvenient direction, they are past inconvenient into undeniable. It might have started with Frank, but it's definitely both of them now. Jamia with her goddamn smile and Frank with his stupid giggle and his enthusiasm for every single one of Gerard's ideas. Spending time with them is amazing and terrible all at once. From the hair touch-up appointments where one or both of them is touching him to the Sunday dinners that feel so fucking comfortable and like he belongs there, he's so, so fucked.

They really love him a lot, he can tell. But they love everyone they adopt into their inner circle. How the are with each other is… Gerard's pretty sure their relationship is everything he's ever wanted in a relationship. They love each other so much, and it shows in everything they do.

He's embarrassed sometimes that he'd assumed Frank was gay. Then again, other times he catches Frank doing things that would totally be flirting if he were anyone else. If he weren't so obviously worshipful of the ground Jamia walks on.

Gerard has his third touch-up appointment today, and he's looking forward to it and dreading it at the same time. Frank will be touching him. And maybe Jamia, too. Sometimes she shampoos his hair if Frank is with someone and doesn't have time. It's kind of torture, but it's also kind of amazing.

Gerard is content, is the thing, but he also misses getting laid. It takes him an embarrassingly long time to remember he can do something about that.

He goes to his appointment, and it's just Frank, like it was the first time. They have the routine down now, and Frank washes Gerard's hair and chatters to him about anything and everything. Gerard answers as he can, but Frank massaging his scalp is kind of totally relaxing.

"You're so pretty when you're sleepy," Frank tells him. "Lucky you. Late night last night?"

"Mmm," Gerard murmurs. "First I was writing and drawing, and then it got late enough to call Grant in Scotland. So I did. Probably should have just gone to bed instead."

"I will have stern words with Grant Morrison if you fall asleep at the wheel or something, don't think I won't." Gerard opens his eyes and smiles up at Frank.

"I'll be fine. You're the one putting me to sleep right now."

"Well shame on me, then," Frank says.

He rinses Gerard's hair out and sits him in the chair. Frank puts bleach on Gerard's roots and distracts him from how goddamn itchy his head is with an impression of James doing some stupid thing.

"You're the best stylist ever," Gerard says, tucking his fingers under his thighs, so he won't forget and scratch.

"Damn straight, I am," Frank replies with a grin. "Now come back over to the sink, and let me rinse you."

"Yes, please," Gerard says.

"Wimp," Frank teases. "Beauty is pain." He sighs with relief when the water hits his scalp. Then Frank puts dye on the bleached roots. "You're gonna have to let me cut off the bad ends soon," he says.

"I like it looking fucked up, like I'm a character. Living in the desert, maybe, sleeping with men for money or gasoline." Gerard trails off when he notices how Frank is staring, but Frank looks away.

"Write the character and then let me cut the hair, so it doesn't all die and fall out," Frank says.

"Technically hair is dead," Gerard says primly, and Frank yanks on a strand.

"Attitude. Who here has scissors?"

Gerard sighs dramatically. "I could short you on the tip for that."

"But you won't," Frank says with a smug grin. "Because you may be pretty enough without me, but I make you look this good. Now, dryer."

He actually swats at Gerard when he doesn't move fast enough. Gerard wishes he had the balls to step back into it instead of away. He sits under the hot dryer and listens to the white noise and the dim sounds of the salon and watches Frank clean, do little dance moves to songs when he forgets himself. It makes Gerard's heart clench. Fuck. He’ll ignore it, though; he always does.

At least Jamia isn't here, too. It's was harder last time when they were both there. It made the feeling of sitting under dryer and only being able to watch feel like a goddamn metaphor. Gerard likes a good metaphor, but he's not a fan of living them.

"We going out this weekend?" Frank asks when he releases Gerard from Darth Helmet - seriously, there's a post-it note on the base of the dryer and everything. "It's been a while."

"We are definitely going out this weekend," Gerard replies. "Where are we going?"

"Feel like going dancing?" Frank asks.

"I could do dancing," Gerard replies. That actually sounds pretty perfect.

"Good," Frank says distractedly, shaping Gerard's hair with his scissors. "I missed you."

"I missed you, too," Gerard replies. "I made my deadline, though, so Scott can't call and yell at me."

Frank finishes cutting and picks up his blow dryer. Gerard watches him work. The next part - where Frank plays with sculpting gel to get Gerard's hair to some unknown satisfying state - is his favorite. Gerard can never get it right, so he's just stopped trying.

He doesn't want to leave. He wants to hang around in the salon until Jamia comes back, and then he wants to drag them out for burritos after they close up. He basically wants to spend one hundred percent of his time with them. He wants more than that too, but maybe his brain ought to shut up about that. If they're going out this weekend, he'll have plenty of opportunities to deal with it in a way that doesn't make him a total creep. Frank finally makes a satisfied face at his hair and nudges him.

"I know the thought of leaving my presence is probably unbearable, but I need this chair for Mrs. Russo," he says.

"If I overhear you making plans to run away together, I'm telling Jamia," Gerard teases. He's met Mrs. Russo by now, and she is exactly as amazing as Frank says. He gets up, but now he has an excuse to loiter, so he takes it. He has to say hi to Mrs. Russo and get a cookie, after all. Gerard sits in Jamia's empty chair and watches Frank finish cleaning and sterilizing his station.

"So how's Grant?" Frank asks.

"He's good. Busy like always. Eventually I imagine you'll meet him and Kristan," Gerard says.

"And we duel for your hand?" Frank quips.

Gerard bursts out laughing. He hopes it hides the blush. "Grant is way too laid back for that. He'd probably negotiate some sort of sharing arrangement."

"Well, then," Frank laughs. Then goes to open the door for Mrs. Russo. Gerard kicks his feet and grins. He stands to greet Mrs. Russo.

"You look beautiful, darling," she tells him.

"Not as good as you," he says, and she smiles.

"Did you wait for me, young man?"

"I did! I couldn't leave without saying hello," Gerard says.

"Aren't you sweet. Make Frankie give you one of his cookies."

"I will steal it from his miserly fingers if I have to," Gerard says, giving her a kiss on the cheek. "Gotta go."

He gives Frank a kiss on the cheek too before realizing what he's about to do. Frank is just grinning at him when he pulls back. Gerard is sure his face is flaming red at this point.

"Pass that along to Jamia," Gerard says and ducks out the door before he does anything else. Being such an idiot should hurt, but Gerard has a really ill-advised smile on his face the whole way home. "You're an idiot," he tells himself in the mirror in the entryway of his apartment. It doesn't wipe the smile off his face. "Idiot, idiot." Fuck, his hair looks good. He runs his hand through it and tugs on the ends.

To think this all started because of a hair cut. He's dealing, though. It'll all be fine, and he'll get laid this weekend and spend time with Frank and Jamia. Somehow they end up picking him up on Saturday night, which is fine, really, if he goes home with somebody. Whatever. He'll work it out. When they get to the club, Gerard realizes they both look unfairly hot. Completely, utterly jaw-droppingly .

"Missed you the other day, J," Gerard tells her.

She smiles and reaches up to pat his cheek. "I missed you too, sweetie. Glad we're doing this tonight."

"First round's on me," he smiles.

"Won't argue," Frank says. He reaches out to tug a lock of Gerard's hair.

"Damn, I'm good," he says with a crooked smile.

"You are great," Gerard says with feeling. "Really fucking great."

"Drinks, then dancing," Frank says.

"Yes," Gerard agrees and trails after them into the club. He has to admit it's a nice view. He orders them drinks, and when he gets back to them, he stands back and grins at them. "Well, I definitely lucked out in the dates department tonight."

"Flattery will get you -" Frank giggles but doesn't finish the sentence. Gerard is glad their drinks arrive, so he can't say any of the things going through his head. Gerard stays with them for a while, drinking and chatting and dancing, but eventually there's too much kissing going on. He wanders off and finds a couple of people he vaguely knows, and someone drags him onto the dance floor, and they dance.

"You look gorgeous lately. Where have you been hiding out?" his friend asks, leaning in and talking directly into his ear.

"Been pretty busy," he replies with a grin. "You're looking pretty amazing yourself."

"Tell me more," Gina says.

"Gonna have to do it somewhere quieter," Gerard replies. She smirks at him and tugs him off the dance floor. He follows her to the back of the club where the bathrooms are. Yeah, this is exactly what he was going for. She pushes him up against the wall before they get there, leaning in and kissing him with just enough teeth to make him gasp. Her breasts and hips press against him, and it feels so fucking good to touch someone. He slides his hands over her hips and pulls her closer.

"Is this what you want?" Gerard gasps as she grinds against him. "Or -"

"Whatever," she murmurs against his lips. He slides his hands up to cup her breasts over her dress.

"How about we relocate and discuss it?" he murmurs.

"Definitely," she says, and Gerard tugs her into the empty ladies room. She pushes him back up against the wall again and goes down on her knees, fishing a condom out of her purse as she goes. He closes his eyes and leans his head against the walk and fuck. It's good, her mouth is so good. It doesn't take him long get to the edge.

"Almost there," he gasps. His fingers twitch, and he threads a hand through his own hair instead of hers, keeps his other hand resting gently on her shoulder. When he comes, she pulls off and helps him get rid of the condom, then gasps happily when he slides a hand up her skirt. Just then, Gerard hears a familiar voice say, "Oh!"

He looks up and meets Jamia's eyes and feels his cheeks flame. "I...the door," Jamia blurts. "I'm. I'll go."

He watches her go back out the door and leans in to kiss Gina. He starts moving his fingers again and smiles against her mouth when she gasps. "There you are," he whispers. "Let's pick up where we left off."

 

***

 

Jamia is glad she didn't have to pee too badly because there's no way in hell she's going back there. Seeing Gerard like that… fuck. It's not her business, and it shouldn't mean anything to her one way or the other, but it does. He's theirs. Theirs, not some stranger's, not a guy in a club bathroom, looking...fuck. She gets some water from the bar instead and drinks it down before going back to Frank. She slides up next to him. She opens her mouth to tell him what she saw, but she can't. Not right here, not right now.

"You okay, baby?" Frank asks. "It's getting pretty late."

"Good," she says and tries to make it believable. "I'm good. It's nice to be out."

"Yeah," Frank says, wrapping an arm around her waist. "I miss Gee though. You'd think I could spot that fuckin' hair."

"I saw him, ah, talking to someone at the bathrooms. He should probably be back out soon," Jamia says.

"Kay. Good," Frank replies and kisses her cheek. He keeps kissing lower, too, and Jamia wavers between leaning into it and away from it. Frank's been touching her all night, and she fucking loves it, but what if...what if... He moves back up, though, kisses behind her ear and reaches for his beer. A few minutes later, Gerard appears again, hardly looking anymore disheveled than usual.

"Took you long enough," Frank teases, and Gerard's eyes flash to Jamia for a panicked instant. She can feel her cheeks heating, but Frank continues, "Thought you went to the bathroom in Passaic or something."

"Nah. Saw an old friend," Gerard replies.

"Oh. Cool. Anyone we know?" Frank asks.

"Someone from art school," Gerard says. "More dancing?" He asks. "Or are you two ready to bail?"

"I am," Jamia says. "Sorry, boys."

"It's cool," Gerard says. "We had fun, yeah?" He needs to stop looking at her.

She looks back at Frank, who's grinning at Gerard. "Hell yeah."

"Good," Gerard says, grinning back. They get up, and she remembers that they have to drive him home now. Maybe that will be better. More normal. Frank and Gerard banter back and forth, but Jamia is finding it hard to join in.

She knows she'll have to tell Frank about what she walked in on. She can't fake being okay because she's… not. Which is kind if a revelation in and of itself.

They drop Gerard off at home. She'd let him sit up front with Frank, so he holds the door for her when she moves back. He touches her hand before she gets in.

"Jamia -" She forces a smile onto her face. "Hey, it happens. You deserve to have fun."

Weirdly, that makes his face fall a little. "Goodnight, J," he says.

"Night, Gee," she says and gets back in the car.

"What was that about?" Frank asks as he pulls away from the curb.

"Let's just go home," Jamia says. "We can talk there."

"Okay, now you're worrying me," Frank says.

"It's not… not anything to… let's just talk at home," she replies with a sigh. Luckily home is all of five minutes away. Frank frowns the whole way, though. He knows her too well. She isn't sure how to even say what's bothering her. They get inside and go straight upstairs to their room. She pulls her shoes off. They were hot shoes: strappy platform sling-backs. Frank's leaning against the wall next to the closet and takes them from her an puts them in their place on the shoe rack. "I didn't just see Gerard by the bathrooms. I walked in on him with a girl."

"Doing...what?"

"What do you think, Frank? Getting off." Jamia sighs.

"Oh," Frank says. Jamia looks up at him and sighs. Frank looks... pissed. And upset. Completely fucking upset.

Jamia's plenty upset too, but she can still make herself take a deep breath and say, "Frank?"

"He can do what he wants, I guess," Frank says. His voice is so even, so controlled that Jamia laughs.

"You don't mean that, and you know it," she says.

Frank frowns at her. "No, I don't fucking mean that. I guess I'm pretty fucking transparent to you, aren't I?"

She nods.

"You're not very happy, either," he points out.

"Of course, I'm not," she replies. "He's ours."

"J," Frank says slowly, "no, he's not."

"He is," she replies. "He is, and you know that, too."

"J, we never… he's… fuck," Frank says tiredly and sits next to her on the bed.

"If you try to tell me you're not stupid in love with him, Frankie, I'll laugh."

"I won't, then, Mrs. 'He's ours,'" Frank says. His tone is sarcastic, but he takes her hand.

"I would have said 'yours' before I saw him with a girl," Jamia admits. "I would have been...fine with that. For the record. I know you wouldn't have."

Frank swallows audibly. "And then you saw him?"

"He was there with his hand up her skirt, and I suddenly… it made my stomach hurt," she admits. "And there's no reason it should because I have you. But... I feel so dumb, Frankie."

"Hey," he says gently. "Do you think I'm dumb here?"

"Of course not," she says, turning her head away.

"Hey," he says, touching her cheek. "Don't do that."

"I just. It's… ugh," she says. "I expected to talk you through this, not… fuck."

"Jamia," he replies. "I never expected us to talk about it at all. I knew he wasn't for me."

She takes a deep breath. She doesn't really know what to think, except that seeing Gerard with someone else was like a punch in the gut. It was a visceral feeling of wrongness, like what she was seeing was not what was supposed to be.

"You sure about that?" she asks.

"I have you, and I don't ever want you to think you're not… I could survive. Without him in my life like that. I really fucking couldn't survive without you. As we have proven time and again," Frank murmurs.

"I know, Frankie," she sighs, tilting her head against his shoulder.

"So what… are we… I don't understand what we're actually talking about here," he says, lips against the top of her head.

"And you think I do?" Jamia laughs and rubs her cheek against his shoulder. "I know you wonder," she whispers. "How it would feel to touch him. I can see it on your face every time we're with him."

"I… yeah. But Jamia, it's not… no matter how much I might want it, I don't need it," he says.

"What if you could have it anyway? What if... What if I could?"

"Like… a threesome?" Frank asks.

"Like the two of us would have a boyfriend," Jamia says. "If he wanted to, anyway." She makes a face at him. "Come on, Frank, it's not like I've done this before, but people do. They must have reasons."

"How do you go about asking for that kind of thing, though?" he asks. "And if he says no, does that mean we lose him? Because I would rather be his friend than not."

Jamia frowns. It's why she didn't want to have this conversation in the first place. "I don't know. Maybe we wait. See if we can… I don't know, tell? If he would want to or not?"

Frank laughs, and she makes a face at him again. "No, you're right. I don't have any better ideas. Fuck. I was hoping to be done with this bullshit when I married you." Frank wraps his arms around her shoulders. "I love you," he says.

"Love you, too," she murmurs and slides her own arms around his waist.

"He seemed sort of upset, too. Maybe he'll say something." Frank sounds hopeful.

She smiles. "Maybe. We'll… something will work out. We don't have to sort it all out this second."

"I'm surprised you brought it up," Frank replies.

"I think we finally got to the point where not talking about it seemed like a worse idea than talking about it," Jamia says.

Jamia asks Frank to call. She's still feeling uncomfortable, but she wants to see Gerard, and she knows Frank does, too. Frank arranges diner breakfast with a comic shop pit stop (because they're them) for Monday, which sounds good to Jamia. When they get to the diner Monday morning, Gerard looks tired but so damn good, and he greets them both with a big hug.

"What did you get up to this weekend?" Frank asks, because Frank will actually tell you to your face that you look tired.

"Had dinner with my family last night," Gerard says. "Everyone was able to be there for once, and then Mikey and I say on the couch talking for a long time."

"Good talk?" Jamia knows Gerard and Mikey are close.

Gerard smiles. "Yeah. It was really good. Mikey's good at smacking me and forcing me out of my own head."

"Sometimes everyone needs that," Jamia says, reaching for Frank's hand under the table.

"Too fucking true," Frank says and squeezes back. "Who's getting pancakes, so I can steal a bite?"

"Why don't you get your own?" Gerard asks.

"Because I want this hash with the tofu," Frank replies.

Gerard wrinkles his nose. "Guess I can share."

"You're the best," Frank says, and Gerard just grins at him.

Yeah, Gerard would definitely say yes to Frank. Jamia lets herself think about that for a few minutes longer than she really ought to.

Gerard nudges her calf with his foot. "Quarter for your thoughts."

"Not a penny, big spender?" Jamia asks.

"Your thoughts are always worth way more than a fucking penny," Gerard replies.

"Don't know if I agree," she tells him.

"Well, you'd be wrong," Gerard says with certainty.

She smiles at him. "I was thinking about my husband," she says. "And how I am glad you appreciate him the way he ought to be appreciated."

He bites his lip and looks her in the eye. "He's my best friend," Gerard says.

"Mine, too," Jamia replies.

"We have good taste," Gerard says. "And I'd count you as my best friend, too."

"Very good taste," Jamia replies with a grin, leaning her head against Frank's shoulder for a moment. After that, things even out. She feels more comfortable now, more at ease with Gerard again. They're having fun and laughing and talking. Frank steals bites of Gerard's pancakes, and Jamia and Gerard guzzle coffee like it might go away.

While they're browsing the comic shop after breakfast, she finds herself flipping through new releases next to Gerard.

"I'm thinking about letting him cut it, next time," he says, tucking a raggedy strand of hair behind his ear, only to have it fall back.

Jamia reaches over and does it for him, letting herself linger around the curve of his ear. "Keeping the red?"

"I like the red," Gerard says.

"I do, too. He's right, the ends are getting pretty brittle," she says.

"Yeah," he replies. "I like the length, but I feel like I'm finding more of it on my floors than is on my head."

"Well, I think you'd look pretty damn good with it shorter if that helps," Jamia murmurs.

"It helps," he replies.

She smiles at him and shows him one of the books in her hand. "Any good?" Jamia asks.

Gerard wrinkles his nose. "The art is great, and the guy has good ideas," he says.

"But?" she asks with a smile.

"But he's a fucking douchebag, and I hate him," Gerard replies.

"None of my hard-earned tips for him, then," she says and puts it back.

He beams at her and picks up another title and hands it to her. "On the other hand, this book is both amazing and written by a friend."

"Good enough for me," she says, linking her arm in his and giving him a little squeeze. He leans in and kisses her cheek. Jamia swallows and smiles, and they go find Frank where he's standing in front of the Vertigo trades. He's got the first two volumes of The Invisibles in his hand, which makes Gerard beam at him. He sets a hand on Frank's waist and leans closer to look at the pages Frank is looking at.

"It'll change your life," Gerard whispers. Jamia can see Frank shiver. Can Gerard feel it?

"Hope it does," Frank replies.

"And then I'll introduce you to Grant, and you'll have the worst time not just sitting at his feet and asking him to tell you stories," Gerard says. "You'll see."

"You first," Frank says. "Did you ever write it down? Your story about the guy in the desert?"

"I did. There's something missing, though. I have the character and a bit of the general world building started, but I'm having trouble coming up with a… something for him to fight against. He's a freedom fighter sort of, but what is he fighting. I was talking to Shaun about it at the last Sunday dinner, and he had some good ideas. Maybe I should call him," Gerard says.

"He'd be fucking overjoyed," Frank says. "I am, too."

Gerard smiles at Frank in such a way that if things were different, Jamia is pretty sure he'd be leaning in for a kiss.

"If this actually becomes a thing, I'm thanking you in print," Gerard says instead.

"I'll take it," Frank replies. "Gee - we should probably get going, but I want to hang out again soon, okay?"

"Yeah, definitely," Gerard says. "I can definitely come Sunday if nothing else."

"Good. We'll call," Frank replies.

 

***

 

Frank doesn't want to leave Gerard at the comic book store. Ever since Jamia had startled the shit out of him with her conversation, he can't get Gerard out of his head. Well, not that he really could before, but now scenarios Frank hadn't ever let himself think about won't get out of his head. It's kind of distracting. When he's cooking, when he's driving, when he's sweeping the floor...when he's in bed with Jamia. Finally he decides to call Gerard and see if they can go out. Just them.

He tells Jamia, and she just nods and tells him they should go to the new restaurant that opened up down the block from the salon. He calls, and Gerard is smiling audibly, as always. Frank bites his lip.

"Come out to dinner with me?" he asks. "Tonight, tomorrow, whatever fits your schedule."

"Tonight works," Gerard replies. "My exciting plans for tonight involved putting on Brian Eno and working through the evening. That can wait."

"My exciting plans were to go home and fall asleep on the couch with the dogs, but J suggested I take you to the new Indian place."

"Then it's a date," Gerard says. Frank flashes back to one of the first times they hung out. To Gerard saying those exact words and stumbling over his words to correct himself.

"It's a date," Frank repeats back to him.

Gerard doesn't even ask until they meet at the restaurant, but he does ask. "No Jamia?"

"Just us," Frank says. "I wanted to hang out."

"I always want that," Gerard says. "Either way." Frank smiles at him and offers his arm.

"Been a while since I've been on a date," he says. "How am I doing?"

Gerard grins at him. "Perfect."

"Good. You deserve perfect, gorgeous," Frank tells him. Gerard is starting to look the faintest bit confused. Frank is trying really hard to send signals without jumping right into something that intimidates the hell out of him. He wants Jamia to be there for that, anyway.

It is nice, though. To sit with Gerard and talk and order and share bites of food like it is a date. It's especially nice to just look at Gerard, to listen to the sound of his voice as he tells one of his stories. Frank's quick enough with a story, with a joke, but there's something about Gerard that makes him want to just take it all in. Frank tells his own stories, about his band days, about the tours he went on, the shows he played. Gerard has heard most of it by now, so Frank combs his memory for the sort of ridiculous stories Gerard would be into.

This is dating, Frank thinks, pulling up the best and brightest things about yourself to show off. Luckily Frank has plenty of brightness working for him. Gerard's looking down at the table, reaching out to trace one of Frank's tattoos with a gentle finger. Frank sucks in a breath and flips his hand over to squeeze Gerard's. He doesn't let himself linger. He squeezes and pulls his hand back to take a sip of his lassi.

"I got an invitation to go dancing again this weekend," Gerard says after a while. Casually.

"Oh?" Frank asks. He tries for casual, but he's pretty sure he fails spectacularly.

"Same friend I saw when we went out," Gerard says and fiddles with his napkin. Frank's pretty sure he's waiting, wondering if Jamia has told Frank what she saw. Frank swallows.

"If you want to go, you should," he says. He knows for sure that he doesn't sound quite right. Definitely doesn't sound sincere. Which isn't at all fair to Gerard if he really likes this girl.

"I want to," Gerard replies. "But I'd rather go with you and Jamia."

"I… if you want us to go out with you, all you have to do is ask. And you know you're always welcome at the house, right? Not just Sundays. Always," Frank finally says.

"I wouldn't want to --"

"We want you there," Frank says, then more quietly, "any time at all."

Gerard nods. "I… that means a lot, Frankie," Gerard says. "I'm so fucking glad my mom suggested coming to you guys."

"So am I." And Frank means it, even though it's made things confusing. It's like when his guitar slips slightly out of tune. Frank knows he can fix this; he just has to find which peg to twist.

*

Gerard starts coming by the house more often almost immediately after their conversation. Not every day, but nearly. It's pretty much exactly what Frank wanted to happen. When he tells Jamia about their date after, she smiles and tells him she's glad he said that.

"I haven't really had to deal with jealousy in a while," she tells him and kisses him. "I don't really like it."

He laughs. He's never given her a reason to be jealous. Would never have, not on purpose. And apparently he hasn't now, even though he's totally in love with another person. She's jealous of this girl she saw for about thirty seconds in a dim club bathroom. Frank feels weirdly proud of himself.

And proud of her, for the care she shows to Gerard. He doesn't look as tired, anymore, not after he's been spending his evenings with them, letting them feed him, writing and drawing on their couch. Both of them have taken to plopping down beside him and leaning against his side when he's been working so long that he's started making frustrated faces and shifting restlessly. He always sets down his pen and leans back.

It's not something Jamia really understands, except as it's always related to him, and something Frank does - when he used to struggle to get a song out of his head, or the words he still writes down in books he keeps in the nightstand. Jamia has creativity coming out of her pores, but it doesn't tend to express itself in the same ways. It also helps that she's not quite so stubborn about it and is willing to set something down for a while and come back to it.

Frank has to say, he likes watching the two of them cuddle almost as much as he enjoys the cuddling himself. He likes watching Jamia stroke her fingers through Gerard's hair, likes watching him smile sweetly.

One day, Gerard starts sniffling and sneezing. Frank knows he won't be too far behind if Gerard is getting sick, but there's no way in hell they're gonna send him home. Jamia sends him a worried glance and points toward the cabinet where they keep the cold meds, then goes to sit next to Gerard.

"I'm fine. It's just allergies," he hears Gerard tell her. He doesn't even have to look at her to know what look she's giving him.

He gets a fistful of vitamins and decongestants and a glass of water and goes back to squeeze in on his other side. "Take these. Do not argue. Jamia and I are experts at this."

Gerard makes a face but takes the pills from Frank's hand tosses them in his mouth and swallows them down with the water.

"I don't have fucking time to get sick," he whines and rests his head on Jamia's shoulder.

"Hell, this is too familiar. Guess, what, baby, we don't get a choice about that," Jamia says, running her fingers through his hair. He closes his eyes, and Frank leans against him.

"We'll take care of you, Gee," he murmurs.

"Okay." Gerard is absolutely unresisting.

"Give me your keys," Frank says. "I'll go get you some stuff from your place."

Gerard lifts his hips, reaches into his pocket, and presses the keys into Frank's hand. Frank gets up, presses a kiss to Gerard's temple, then Jamia's cheek, and leaves for Gerard's place. He gets a bunch of Gerard's pajamas and t-shirts and underwear and an extra pair of jeans and heads back. Luckily, Gerard has everything else he needs for work there already.

Gerard's still on the couch with Jamia when he gets back, his head in her lap. He's asleep, and she's still petting his hair.

"Hi," Frank whispers and puts the bag of Gerard's things on the ground. He kneels on the floor by Jamia's feet.

"Hi, baby." She transfers her fingers to his hair. Frank reaches up to run his hand through Gerard's hair. He keeps his eyes on Jamia, though. She smiles softly at him.

"You're gonna get sick," she whispers.

"Don't care," Frank whispers back and kisses Gerard's forehead. Then he kisses Jamia's knee and leans against it with his eyes closed. He stays like that until Gerard stirs.

"Oh," Gerard mutters. "I didn't hear you come in."

"You're definitely sick," Jamia says above them.

"We're gonna go upstairs now and make up the guest bed for you, Gee," Frank says. He makes a pouty face, and Frank laughs and kisses his nose. "Or just one of us can. I'll go," Frank says. "Hang tight." He goes upstairs and makes sure the guest room is sorted and then goes back downstairs. "Change, Gee," he murmurs. "Get comfy."

"I am," Gerard replies.

"Go upstairs with Frankie, Gerard," Jamia murmurs. Gerard turns his face to kiss the top of her thigh and rolls onto his feet. He coughs and frowns, and Frank shoulders the bag of Gerard's things again and nudges him up the stairs.

"Now change," Frank says. "I'll leave for a -"

"Don't," Gerard murmurs. "Want you to tuck me in."

"Okay," Frank says and sits on the edge of the bed. Gerard gets rid of his jeans quickly and pulls on a pair of flannel pajama pants and crawls into bed.

"I hate being sick," Gerard mumbles.

"Preaching to the choir, Gee." Frank slides closer to Gerard and lays a hand on his forehead. "You're warm," Frank says.

Gerard grimaces. "I feel like hell."

"You admitted you were getting sick and suddenly started feeling worse and worse, huh?" Gerard nods miserably. "Sleep, beautiful," Frank tells him.

"Maybe I can, now," he mumbles. "Frankie..."

Frank pulls the covers up to Gerard's chin and leans down to kiss his cheek. "Let us know if you need anything," he says. "I'll come check on you later."

He pulls the door closed and goes back downstairs to Jamia. She hands him a cup of tea and a handful of vitamins. He swallows it all down. At the very least, maybe he can delay getting sick until Gerard is better.

"Who's staying home with him tomorrow?" Frank asks. She's got the calendar pulled up on her phone.

"Looks like I have more appointments than you, and I can squeeze several of yours in. I'll go in if you call and reschedule a few."

"Will do," Frank says. "It means - I will be glad to have the chance."

She smiles and pats his cheek. "I know, Frankie. I'm gonna take my chance, too. Don't think I won't."

They go to bed that night, and he makes love to her for what feels like hours. Slowly, thoroughly, and he sleeps soundly. A noise from the guest room wakes him in the wee hours of the morning. He slips out of bed and into Gerard's room, with a pit stop at the bathroom for some water and a few different varieties of meds, depending on what he needs.

Gerard is sitting up with his back against the headboard, hand over his mouth, coughing. "Hey," Frank whispers. "More pills, beautiful. Promise it'll do you good." He sits next to Gerard and pulls his head down to rub his back.

Gerard leans into Frank's touch and swallows his pills and drinks his water. Frank runs his hand over Gerard's back and through his hair until his breathing evens out, until he stops coughing and falls back asleep.

I could just stay here, Frank tells himself, a bit deliriously. But. He could, and he's pretty sure it'd be okay. He nudges Gerard over and slides into bed with him. Gerard is clearly too sick to comment or complain because he curls against Frank's side immediately. He's overly warm and sleep-sweaty, but Frank doesn't care. He tangles their feet together and closes his eyes.

He wakes up again when Jamia sits on the side of the bed. She's dressed for the day and looking completely fucking amazing. She's stroking her hand over Gerard's head where it lays on Frank's chest and looking at them both fondly. "Don't forget to make the rest of your calls," she says, handing him his phone.

He nods blearily and takes the phone from her. "Love you," he murmurs, and she leans in to kiss him.

"Love you, too. Call if you need me to get anything on the way home. I'll try to check in later," she says.

Gerard stirs and murmurs. "It's just Jamia; she's leaving. Go back to sleep," Frank says.

He opens his eyes and looks at them. "Bye, J," he croaks and frowns at the sound of his own voice.

"Sleep," she says firmly. "Maybe I'll bring you home a treat."

"Mmm. Kay," he replies and nuzzles against Frank's chest.

"She means rainbow sherbert," Frank says. "It'll help your throat. Now shh."

Jamia leans down and kisses him one more time and goes. Frank's glad there's a book on the nightstand because he's awake now. Gerard sleeps for another couple of hours before he groans and stumbles to the bathroom. When he comes back, Frank makes him take more meds, and then he settles back against Frank's chest looking slightly more alert.

"Did you stay home from work for me?" he asks.

"Yes," Frank says simply. "And Jamia will tomorrow unless you have a miracle recovery. Don't think about faking, she's used to me, and she's seen every trick in the book." Gerard laughs and then starts coughing. Frank runs his hand over Gerard's back.

"You guys are good to me," he murmurs when he's done.

"No, we are the best." Frank smiles.

"Don't really need anyone else, really," Gerard mutters.

"Sleep, Gee," Frank reminds him. Gerard goes back to sleep, and Frank keeps reading. After half an hour or so, he's desperate for coffee, and he needs to make his phone calls, so he slides out from under Gerard and goes downstairs.

Coffee and toast make him feel human again, and none of his clients are too terrible about the cancellations - although he shudders when he thinks about the possibility of having to do this again if he gets sick - so he settles down with a refill and the DVR remote. He hears Gerard coughing again and is about to get up and go upstairs to check on him when Gerard comes down and flops on the couch with his head in Frank's lap.

Frank pulls the blanket off the back of the couch and covers him. "Did you take anything before you came down?" he asks gently.

"Yeah," Gerard sighs. "Just wanted to be with you."

"You need me to contact anyone about work deadlines or anything?" Frank asks.

"I just need my phone," Gerard says.

"Is it upstairs?" Frank asks.

"Yeah," Gerard replies. "In my pants, I think?"

"I'll go get it for you. And then maybe make you something to eat?" Frank asks. Gerard makes a face. "Toast and applesauce?" Frank offers.

"Okay," Gerard agrees, and Frank gets up. He goes upstairs, comes back and gives Gerard's phone to him, and goes in to fix Gerard some breakfast. He listens to Gerard's scratchy voice as he makes the necessary phone calls and is really fucking glad he can do this for him. Gerard eats tiredly, like it's an effort, and curls up on Frank's lap again immediately. Mama hops up and settles in the crook of Gerard's body. Frank rests a hand on Gerard's shoulder and starts reading again. Eventually, he's going to need to get up, take the dogs out, feed them both again, but for now he's happy to just sit.

They spend most of the day on the couch, although Frank gets up every once in a while to let the dogs out or get them drinks. Gerard sleeps. He perks up a little bit when Jamia gets home, and she has a carton of rainbow sherbet, but he conks out again with Jamia on his other side. He sleeps through the two of them talking about the day. Eventually, Jamia goes to get herself some dinner, and when she comes back, she looks at Gerard.

"Yeah, definitely staying home with him tomorrow," Jamia murmurs.

Frank nods. "Must be the flu. A regular cold wouldn't wipe him out quite this badly."

"At least we got flu shots," Jamia replies. "And I already rearranged the book for tomorrow. So, if you want to go to bed, I can take over here."

Frank nods. He feels fine for the moment, but it's close enough to bed time that he might as well just go. The more he sleeps, the better his immune system will work. Especially if Gerard got the death flu that's not part of the flu shot. As he heads for the stairs, he can't help looking back to see Jamia watching Project Runway on low volume and playing with a strand of Gerard's hair. He wouldn't mind, he thinks, having every day end like this. Well, aside from Gerard being sick.

 

***

 

Everything seems warm and hazy and vaguely unreal, but Gerard hasn't been so well-taken-care-of when he was sick in ages. He wouldn't quite go far as to say he's glad he got sick because the flu is hell, but damn if it doesn't feel good to have them dote on him and hold him.

The evening of the fourth day, Jamia runs her fingers through his hair, and they get caught in a snarl. "Think you can sit up enough for me to wash your hair, babe?" she asks. "We've even got a proper chair and sink set up in the garage, so you won't have to put too much effort into sitting up." She hits another snag and adds, "Maybe a trim, too."

He laughs weakly. "Okay. That sounds really nice, actually."

She leads him out into the garage and gets the water going. "I can make it fast, or I can do the full treatment," she offers.

"The full deal," he murmurs. He loves it when they touch his hair, for any reason. He always comes perilously close to falling asleep when they wash his hair anyway. He might actually do it this time. It's been a while since Jamia washed his hair, and in the quiet garage he can hear her humming. She works the shampoo in and massages his head slowly and gently, and fuck, it feels so damn good. His eyes drift closed, and he concentrates on the feel of her fingers. It might feel even better now than normal. He feels like her fingers are soothing away the ache in his head that's been pounding there since before he even realized he was sick.

After a while he feels better than good, the low-level desire for her fingers to stray elsewhere blooming slowly but surely. Fuck, he thinks. He's definitely starting to feel better. She rinses and conditions, and it's half torture, half fucking amazing. He's slightly relieved when she's done and has him sit up and starts snipping.

"Gee, honey, I'm going to go pretty short. You have a lot of tangles."

"'S cool,” he murmurs. “Was gonna let Frank cut it soon anyway."

"Maybe I shouldn't butt into the relationship between a boy and his stylist," she jokes.

Gerard takes a breath. "Maybe you should." She gives him an eyebrow and strokes a finger down his cheek. He starts coughing then, totally ruining the moment.

Jamia helps him lean forward and rubs his back. "Relax," she murmurs. He nods and tries to breathe properly.

Finally, his coughing stops, and she continues cutting his hair. It doesn't take her long, and when she's done, she sweeps up while he sits, then leads him into the downstairs bathroom for a look. He runs his fingers through it and looks at it from as many angles as he can. "I like it," he concludes with a smile. "And now I need to sit down again." His head is kind of swimming, though not as bad as it would have been even a day ago.

Jamia sits down with him. He kind of expected her not to. She tugs him against her and slumps down, so they're basically lying on the couch together. He sighs happily as she starts running her fingers through his hair again. "There," she murmurs. “No more tangles."

"Jamia," he replies. She's soft and curvy, a warm weight against him, and he wants to put his arms around her and more. He lets himself wrap his arms around her and press his face into her shoulder.

"You seem to be doing a little better today," she says as she keeps stroking his hair.

"I haven't slept much lately," he murmurs.

She makes a concerned noise and tips his chin up with her finger. "Why, beautiful? Just the flu keeping you awake, or something else?"

"Hard to turn my brain off. Too quiet at home."

"Then stay here," Jamia says like it's that easy.

"Wear out my welcome," Gerard sighs.

She actually laughs. "Never gonna happen, babe. We want you here."

"...Flirting," Gerard manages, the rest of the thought lost somewhere between brain and throat.

"Duh," is all Jamia says.

Gerard blinks at her. "I don't… J, I have the flu. It's not nice to mess with me."

"Would we do that, Gee?" she whispers.

"Probably not?" Gerard says. He's still confused, though. "I… what are you saying?"

"That if you ever thought Frank and I were flirting, we probably were. Not the past few days, of course. Neither of us has a snot fetish." She sounds so utterly matter of fact. Gerard's head hurts.

"When my fucking head doesn't feel like it's going to explode, and everything doesn't feel fuzzy and surreal, I want to have this discussion again," Gerard murmurs.

"Anytime," Jamia replies

"Okay," he whispers. She kisses his forehead, and it's a mark of the fact that he's still pretty sick that he manages to fall asleep again not long after.

Frank's home when he wakes again. "Drooling on my wife's tits, I see your game," Frank teases quietly, and Gerard realizes Jamia's asleep, too.

Gerard blinks at him and clears his throat. "I… um. Well, they're nice tits."

"Oh, I know," Frank replies. "Well, I demand equal treatment, Typhoid Mary. Too bad the couch isn't bigger."

"We could just go to bed," Jamia suggests sleepily.

"I just got here. Also, I'm hungry," Frank replies. "But I vote for that for later."

Gerard is hallucinating. Go to bed?

"Make yourself food, so we can go do that," Jamia says. Gerard chooses that moment to cough again, and then Frank's hands are rubbing his shoulders and Jamia's are stroking over his back.

"Your hair looks great, by the way," Frank tells him.

"You're not mad?" Gerard asks.

"Course not," Frank replies. "It needed to be done, and I bet you liked having J do your hair."

"Yeah," he replies.

Frank smiles at him. "We are good at sharing, Gee." Gerard just nods, and Frank disappears into the kitchen to make himself a sandwich.

Jamia reaches for the remote and flips on the TV. When they get settled again, Gerard's head is pillowed on her tits. "Sorry bout the drool," he mumbles.

She laughs. "I've had worse. And from non-humans at that. I'll take you any day."

He manages to watch Real Housewives with them, and when Frank finally steers him upstairs, he goes sleepily and obediently. He feels like he blinks, and Jamia is in a pair of boxers and a loose t-shirt, and Frank is looking about the same. He's glad he's already in sweats and a t-shirt because when they finish brushing their teeth, Frank backs Jamia against the bathroom doorjamb and kisses her. Gerard would have hated to miss that, even if it does make him a creeper. Which some part of his brain the flu hasn't eaten suspects he isn't.

When Frank's hands wander up to slide over Jamia's breasts over her t-shirt, Gerard bites his lip. Fuck, they're hot. "Behave," Jamia tells Frank, not sounding overly insistent.

Frank moves his thumbs over her tits and pulls back, grinning impishly. Gerard can see Jamia's hard nipples under her shirt, and fuck, he's half-hard and totally flu-exhausted at the same time.

"Come on, Red," Frank says, transferring the tail end of that grin to Gerard. "Bedtime." He takes Gerard's hand and tugs him into the master bedroom.

Frank pulls back the covers and nudges Gerard under them, then gets in on one side, while Jamia gets in on the other. Frank tangles their feet together and spoons up behind him, and Jamia presses close from the front. He can feel her hard nipples against his chest and can barely hold in a moan. There's no way she doesn't feel that he's hard.

"Get better," she whispers, "so we can have that talk."

He swallows and nods, and she slides her arm over his waist next to Frank's. He closes his eyes and breathes deeply. He wants to kiss her. He's pretty sure he'd be allowed, but he still can't really breathe through his nose.

Frank leans closer, too. "I'm looking forward to it," he whispers in Gerard's ear, kissing the skin beneath it.

"Not nice to tease me when I can't breathe through my nose, and I'm fucking exhausted even though I slept most of the day," Gerard grumps. He doesn't actually mind that much, though. Not if they're implying what he thinks they are implying.

"Shh," Frank replies. "And I will be very nice when you can appreciate it more."

"So fucking nice, you won't know what to do with yourself," Jamia says.

Gerard laughs. "I don't know what to do with myself now."

"Yes, you do," she replies. "Sleep."

"Ugh," Gerard says, but his eyes are already shut, and he's warm, and he's got these two people he loves so fucking much holding him. Sleep isn't actually that hard.

*

The next morning, Gerard gets up with them, even though it's hard, and he's still achy, and asks if they'd drive him back to his apartment. "You guys need to work, and I need clean clothes and to work with my actual computer."

Frank makes worried faces but agrees, and when they drop him off, they insist on coming over after work to check on him. Gerard doesn't mind at all. He sets a load of laundry going and boots up his computer and starts answering emails.

Two hours into being in his own place, Gerard is missing the dogs, missing having Frank or Jamia close, missing everything, basically. He makes himself rest frequently, mostly because Frank keeps texting him and nagging him to rest frequently. He even manages to feed himself. Which only happens because there's shit in the freezer, but he figures that works.

When Frank and Jamia show up that evening, he's actually feeling pretty decent. Comparatively. Frank cleans his apartment while Jamia distracts him from apologizing with reality TV. She immediately curls up against him and plays with the drawstring of his hoodie. He wraps his arm around her shoulders and settles in.

"You seem a little bit better," Frank says when he's done puttering and comes to sit on the arm of the couch.

"I am now," Gerard says. Frank leans down to kiss the top of his head. "Your stupid texts helped. Every time you nagged, I stopped and took a nap or had a snack."

"Good," Frank says. "Do you feel tired now?"

"Yeah, but I don't want you to leave yet. Let's watch TV for a while?" He punctuates it with a cough, and Jamia rubs gently over his chest. "That feels nice," he murmurs. Jamia smiles and lets Frank take over.

He closes his eyes and lets himself drift for a few minutes, relishing the feel of Frank's hand, of Jamia pressed against him. He feels like he can truly appreciate it for the first time since he got sick. It's so effective that he barely wakes up the whole way when Frank helps him off the couch and to his bedroom. He grabs at Frank's wrist when he goes to leave. "No."

"We have to go take care of the dogs, babe," Frank says gently. "We'll come back to see you tomorrow." Frank leans down and kisses him, so close to the corner of his mouth that it practically counts as on the lips. But too fast, and gone too soon.

Jamia comes in and tucks his hair behind his ear. "We'll see you tomorrow," she murmurs, and then they're gone.

The rest of the week goes pretty much the same way, with Gerard slowly but surely digging himself out from under his deadlines and nightly visits from the Ieros, one or both of them. Jamia tells him that the dogs seem to be looking for him, which makes him feel pretty good. The visits are nice, but he misses them. He's looking forward to Sunday dinner more than he ever thought possible. He's selfishly hoping no one else comes, even though he and Shaun have been emailing almost every day about project ideas.

When he lets himself into their house, he knows by the smell in the air that they're making his favorite foods. Nobody else is hanging around, but that doesn't mean they won't show up later. The dogs greet him first, excitedly running around his feet and legs. Frank is next, wearing a striped apron and holding a spatula.

"How are you feeling?"

"Good!" Gerard replies. "I am at least eighty-five percent of normal. Which is practically better. Just a bit of a cough, and I still get tired easily, but I napped all afternoon."

"I like the sound of eighty-five percent." Frank is advancing on him purposefully. Jamia comes down the stairs.

"Are you forgetting something, Frankie?"

"Um. Possibly," Frank says and looks sheepish. Gerard does not like the fact that he stopped two feet away. He crosses his arms, and he's pretty sure he's pouting a little.

Jamia laughs. "Dinner," she says pointedly. "And conversation."

"Fine, fine," Gerard grouses, but he's not mad. Just… a little impatient. They should talk, though. Make sure they're all on the same page here. He waits until they're all seated around the kitchen table, Frank and Jamia chatting about their customers and serving up food. Gerard takes a sip of wine and smiles. They eat and talk about inconsequential things, and it's just as great as always. The anticipation is building in Gerard's chest, though.

"Can you put me out of my misery here?" he finally asks when Jamia hands around some of Frank's homemade cookies.

Jamia laughs at him and squeezes his hand. "Remember how we went out a while back, and I walked in on you?"

His cheeks flame. "Yeah, I do."

"We were upset," Frank replies. "Knowing we didn't have a right to be, but..."

"I might have used the words, 'but he's ours,'" Jamia admits. Gerard's heart is in his throat. "And I guess maybe before we claim you, we ought to ask if you are."

"Pretty sure I have been since almost day one," Gerard replies. "I was going to ask you out, Frankie, until I saw the wedding ring." Frank smiles. Gerard looks at Jamia. "And then I saw the ring, and I met you, and I couldn't even be upset about it because you're so fucking amazing."

It's Jamia's turn to smile, and Frank's to shrug like well, yeah. "I have good taste," Frank says.

Gerard laughs. "Of course, you do. Can we… I'm tired of waiting." He looks between the two of them, and Jamia picks his hand up and kisses the palm.

"Shouldn't have gotten sick at the worst possible time," she teases gently.

He sighs. "At least I didn't get either of you sick?"

"Because we got flu shots. You're getting one next year," she says.

"I hate needles," Gerard says.

"But you love us," Frank replies.

"Yeah," Gerard says softly after a beat. "That's kinda the point I'm making here."

"That's good because that's what we're saying, too," Frank says and stands. "Fuck cleaning up, let's go upstairs."

"I can count on one hand the number of times he's said that," Jamia laughs. "Just... can we take it easy, baby?"

"Yeah," Frank replies and takes her hand and pulls her close. He leans down to kiss her, and Gerard watches for the first time without feeling like a total creep.

"You're so perfect," he blurts. "Why do you need me?"

"We want you," Frank corrects absently. "Because you're you." He leans down, hand braced on the back of Gerard's chair, and kisses him, a slow press of lips and tongues. Gerard reaches up to cup Frank's cheeks. Fuck, it's perfect. Everything he's been waiting for. "There, that's only months and months overdue," Frank murmurs when he pulls back, "Next?"

"Next is me," Jamia says, nudging Frank out of the way and perching in his lap. "Gee?" He slides his hands around her waist.

"I can't even deal with how gorgeous you are," he says and leans up to meet her lips.

"Ditto, beautiful," she says, kissing him over and over, tiny presses that deepen and cling. Frank presses in behind her, leaning in to kiss her cheek and Gerard's lips when he pulls back.

"Upstairs," Gerard murmurs a little desperately. He's hard already, and Jamia very purposefully grinds against him before she gets off his lap and tugs him to his feet. He's not sure how they do get upstairs in one piece. He gets Jamia's shirt off on the landing and leans in to run his lips over the tops of her breasts. Fuck, he's wanted to do this since practically the first time he saw her.

"Pinch," Frank murmurs thickly.

Gerard steals a glance to see him palming his fly. Gerard looks into Jamia's eyes and slides his fingers down into the cups. He lifts her tits out and rolls her nipples between his thumbs and forefingers. She bites her lip and moans. He kisses her again, feeling the slide of her tongue stud and moaning back. Then Frank grabs his belt loop and tugs.

"Fuck, Gee," Frank murmurs into his hair and spins him around. He's got his pants open. They're barely hanging on his hips, and all Gerard wants to do is drop to his knees. "No," Frank says, hanging on to his waist. "Upstairs, Gee, please."

"Yeah," Gerard murmurs, and they get the rest of the way upstairs and into the bedroom. Gerard pulls his t-shirt over his head, and Frank does the same. "Frankie," he pleads and reaches out. Frank stands still as Gerard traces inked line after inked line, skin and muscle and hair. Frank finally makes an impatient noise and pulls Gerard against him. And fuck. This is better. Then Jamia is pressed against his back, hands slipping between their chests to touch, explore. She took off her bra when he wasn't looking, and when her bare tits press against his back, he moans. "Imagined everything," he breathes.

"Me too," Frank whispers.

"I started with your fingers," Jamia murmurs against his neck. "Wondered what they'd feel like fucking me."

"I owe both of you a lot of touches," Gerard replies. "All the times you touched me..."

"To be fair, you had the flu," Frank says. "That means free petting."

"Wish I had been brave enough to touch you back," Gerard says.

"You're touching us now," Jamia says and unbuttons his pants and slides down the zip. Gerard leans forward and kisses the base of Frank's neck as he slips a hand into Frank's jeans.

Frank moans, and Gerard pushes his pants down the rest of the way. Jamia steps back to let him get them off Frank's bare feet and, when he stands again, is right back there. He wants to see her, though. To explore her body like he did Frank's. "Bed," Gerard whispers in Frank's ear, then turns to Jamia. She somehow managed to get rid of her pants too, and she's standing there in bright purple panties, waiting for him.

His mouth goes dry. She's all freckles and creamy skin, a wide smile that maybe hides a little nervousness. He steps close and puts his hands on her hips to draw her even closer. She slides her arms around his neck. "I didn't… until I saw you, I didn't really realize how much I wanted you. And then it was just so fucking unfair that she got you, and I didn't. We didn't."

"You thought I just wanted Frank," he guesses. "But you two are a matched set. Jamia... You're so beautiful, so smart, so -" She leans in and kisses him. Hard and insistent, and he slips a hand down the back of her panties to cup her ass.

"Get in bed with Frank," she tells him, ending with a little moan as he squeezes her. He shucks his pants and briefs off and does as she says. Frank rolls against his side and kisses up his shoulder to his lips. His lips move up, and his hand moves down, wrapping gently around Gerard's cock, just holding on.

Gerard moans and looks up at Jamia. She's standing at the end of the bed, totally naked. "J, come here," he whispers.

"On my way," she says with a little grin, eyes lingering first on Frank, then on him. She crawls up the mattress, and Gerard quivers with anticipation, with the pleasure of Frank's hand. He wants so much. Wants everything. Wants to fuck both of them, get his mouth on them, and vice versa. It's overwhelming. Jamia kneels on the bed beside him, and he whines. "You," Jamia says gently but firmly, "are still recuperating. So you are going to let us take care of you. However we decide to."

She smiles mischievously. Gerard moans. "Should've known you'd be fucking bossy. Can I at least suck your tits?"

She swings a leg over his waist, leaning close so he can reach. He's still watching her face, so he sees when Frank's hand slips between her legs, too. He sucks, runs his tongue around her nipples, and uses his teeth just a bit when he switches between them. Jamia moans, rocking between his mouth and Frank's hand. Gerard tugs her down to kiss her mouth, too.

"So fucking gorgeous," he murmurs against her lips. He can feel Frank's hand moving and reaches down between them to join him. "So wet for us," he says as he slides his fingers over Jamia's folds and pushes one inside her next to Frank's.

"Oh, fuck," she breathes.

"You said you wanted my fingers," Gerard replies, rubbing his thumb over her clit. He and Frank get into a rhythm fucking her, and she moans and writhes against Gerard and kisses him whenever she's not gasping for breath. God, he wants to be inside her for real, but this is good. This is fucking incredible.

He turns his head to steal kisses from Frank, too, and Frank uses his free hand to prop himself up, tangling the fingers in Gerard's hair. Gerard feels Jamia clench around their fingers, and he knows she must be close. He watches Frank kiss her and rubs his thumb fast and hard over her clit. She tucks her face against his neck and moans loudly as her hips jerk, and he can feel her come. Frank kisses her temple, fingers still moving gently against her. Gerard whispers to her, tells her how beautiful she is, how amazing it was to feel her come, tells her he wants to feel that when he's inside her sometime. She just moans and kisses his neck.

"Frank," Gerard murmers. "Tell me what..."

Frank moans. "Fuck, I don't… anything, Gee."

He presses his cheek against Jamia's. "What does he like?" he asks her.

"Anything," she pants with a little note of humor.

He chuckles and kisses her. "Helpful. How about he rides me? And maybe… you kiss me. And touch him."

"We can... work with that..." Frank whispers.

"Wanna get you ready for me," Gerard murmurs. "Wanna see your face."

Jamia slips off of him and goes to fetch supplies. Gerard rolls onto his side and sets a hand on Frank's hip.

"Been thinking about your cock for a long time," Frank says. He can feel himself twitch at that, like it's literally got a mind of its own.

"Oh yeah?" he breathes.

"Do you know how tight your pants are, Gee?"

Gerard laughs and kisses him. "Yes, I do."

"Well, I noticed," Frank says. "And bought a bigger dildo."

"Oh, Jesus," Gerard groans.

"No, Jamia," Jamia says into his ear. "Trust me, I enjoyed it, too. I had his number after he came home with that."

"Fuck," Gerard moans. "I'm going to need both of you to fuck me at some point. Possibly at the same time."

The twin noises tell him exactly what they think of that idea, and Gerard takes the opportunity to grab the lube and reach between Frank's legs. Frank's eyes flutter closed, and he bites his lip as Gerard strokes his fingers around Frank's entrance. He keeps his touch light, teasing, just to see how Frank reacts. Frank reacts with another noise, stretching out into a needy whine, and Gerard takes the hint and pushes a finger inside him, feeling little resistance. Frank full-out moans, and his hips stutter against Gerard's hand.

"God, you love it, don't you?" Gerard asks breathlessly.

"More," Frank demands. Gerard gives it to him. He can't bring himself to tease anymore. He just wants Frank. It's easy; Frank can take all of him, he's sure of it. When he finally pulls his fingers out and rolls onto his back, Jamia is there with a condom. She rolls it down his cock and kisses him, then pulls back, so he can watch Frank lower himself onto Gerard. Jamia reaches down to hold Gerard's cock for Frank, and he bites his lip as he starts taking Gerard in.

"Oh, fuck, Frankie," Gerard breathes, hands going to Frank's hips. "You feel amazing."

"So do you," Frank moans. "Fuck."

Jamia turns his head and kisses him, and Gerard is glad of the distraction. He's so fucking turned on, and he wants this to be good for Frank, not over in seconds. Jamia wraps her hand around Frank, letting him thrust up into her fist as he starts to move. Gerard adds his hand to hers, breathing slowly through his nose.

Frank's mouth is slack, and his thigh muscles are standing out from the way he's moving his hips. He looks so good. So right. Just as right as he looks meeting Jamia's lips, leaning into her kiss. Gerard could happily just watch them fuck for a long time. He's pretty thrilled that he doesn't have to. That he gets their hands, their mouths, gets to fuck them himself.

Gerard closes his eyes and concentrates on the feel of Jamia's tits against his arm, on Frank's hand where he's clutching Gerard's side, and thrusts up into Frank. Frank moans, and his nails dig into Gerard's skin.

"You're so fucking beautiful," Gerard gasps.

"So are you. Fuck, Gee," Frank moans and grinds down on him.

Jamia murmurs something that Gerard can't quite catch because her lips are pressed against his shoulder. But her fingers squeeze gently around his, and she speeds up her strokes on Frank's cock, and Gerard thinks he can decode it.

"I want to watch him come, too," he whispers. Frank bites his lip, and Gerard can feel him start to clench around him. He keeps his eyes on Frank's face, on his open mouth. His lips are pink and wet, and he looks exactly as obscene as Gerard could have ever imagined, and his low, drawn-out moan drags like wet velvet as his body clenches and releases, as he spatters their hands and Gerard's stomach with come. Gerard jerks his hips up helplessly, out of any rhythm he might have had.

Frank leans down to kiss him. "Come on, Gee," he whispers against Gerard's lips. "Come for us." Frank kisses his mouth and Jamia his cheek. He can feel both their fingers tangling in his hair, and he thrusts harder, faster, squeezing his eyes shut and moaning into Frank's mouth as his body finally tips over the edge. He comes for what feels like forever. His entire body feels like he's been waiting for this forever.

"Frank, Jamia," he gasps.

"Yeah," Frank groans.

"Here," Jamia whispers.

"Love you so much," he murmurs.

Jamia's lips slide along his cheek. "Love you too, Gee," she whispers.

Frank shifts, which makes them both gasp. Jamia's lips catch the tail end of Frank's as he leans over and kisses her, then pulls off and lets himself drop in between them. He helps Gerard get rid of the condom and drapes himself over Gerard's chest, kissing between his collarbones. "Love you both," he says quietly.

Gerard swallows hard. He never imagined he'd ever feel as good as he does right now. Not just his body. He can feel, vaguely, the tickle that is Jamia trailing her fingers up and down Frank's chest. Frank is breathing steadily against Gerard's shoulder. It's quiet and calm. But... "Is this - how we all want it to be now?" he asks, just to make sure.

"Yes, dumbass," Frank says. "Be our boyfriend. You practically were before anyway."

Gerard smiles. "Yeah, I guess so."

"Now it's just official, and we can fuck," Jamia says.

Gerard is somehow not surprised that Jamia is the raunchy one. Frank is not-so-secretly a romantic, and he thinks maybe Jamia is too, in her own practical way. He tightens his arms around Frank and turns his head to kiss Jamia. "Don't know why you picked me, but I'm glad you did."

"If you recall, it was more you turned up randomly, and we decided we weren't going to let you go," Jamia says.

"Well, you decided. That’s the important part there." Gerard tips her chin up and mouths across her throat, then goes back to Frank. Eventually, he drifts off. There's a moment when he thinks sleepily that getting the flu was the best thing that's ever happened to him.

*

"Hi," Frank says brightly when Gerard walks into the salon. It's a Wednesday night, just like the first time, and Frank is playing Black Flag, but that's where the similarities end. Jamia is at her chair cutting someone's hair.

"Hey, gorgeous," she calls out to Gerard. He beams at her as starts fixing himself a cup of coffee.

"Hi, Gee," Christa says from the front desk where she's sitting. She's been working at the salon for a month now, and she's fitting in great with the other two. Also her husband is certifiably awesome.

"Are you and Ray coming for dinner Sunday?" Gerard asks. "I finally got the rest of my boxes moved over, so it might not even be a disaster area this time."

"As long as you do not, under any circumstances, open the office door," Frank intones.

"Shut up," Gerard tells him. Since there's a customer, Frank doesn't actually say "Make me," but Gerard knows he's thinking it and smirks.

"What am I doing to you tonight, Gee?" he asks sweetly.

Gerard rolls his eyes. "Same old. For now." Frank raises an eyebrow.

"For now?" he asks as he drapes the cape around Gerard's neck and snaps it in place.

"I might be getting close to being ready to let you dye it back to brown," Gerard says and sits in front of the wash basin.

"Natural brown?" Frank asks, like he's not a hairstylist, and there's some secret neon brown Gerard's been hiding the existence of.

"Changed my hair, changed my life. Happy with who I am now," Gerard says lightly.

"Careful, Gee, you're gonna make him cry in your shampoo," Jamia teases gently.

"He wouldn't," Gerard says, but Frank would, apparently, give him the best head massage he's ever had. Gerard thinks his brains are dribbling down the drain with the suds. It's especially unfair because Frank won't get home for several hours yet to take care of the boner Gerard's now concealing beneath the cape.

"I hate you," he whispers as Frank helps him into his chair.

"I am going to blow you right up against the front door when I get home," Frank whispers back and licks his ear. Gerard only just holds in a moan. He hears Jamia laugh and shoots a glare at her, then meets Frank's eyes in the mirror.

"You better."

"Don't threaten me; I have scissors."

"I'd look hot with short hair," Gerard says airily.

"So help me, you would," Frank sighs and starts snipping. Gerard closes his eyes. He listens to the noises of the salon, the sound of the scissors near his head, Jamia's blow dryer until it shuts off, the clicking of keyboard keys from the front desk. Jamia says goodbye to her client and sends her over to Christa. Gerard opens his eyes to watch her come toward them. She smiles at him in the mirror.

"I cleaned and turned in my keys," he tells her. They'd intended to do all that together tomorrow morning, so he gets a big grin.

"You mean I don't have to mop? Awesome."

"And we have a whole damn morning free," Frank adds.

"What ever shall we do?" Jamia drawls.

"Oh, I don't know. Maybe some filing. Breakfast. Take the dogs on a run," Frank says totally deadpan.

"You can do that," Jamia replies quietly. "Gerard will be fucking me."

Gerard is going to have to wear this salon cape home at this point. "Maybe Frank can fuck me instead of filing. You know. If he's into that sort of thing."

"I heard a rumor that he was," Jamia teases.

"They say hairstylists have all the best gossip," Frank says, but he's smiling too. "And in this case it is 100% guaranteed to be true."