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you got me tangled in knots

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It's three weeks into the tour and he's fucking exhausted but he can't stop thinking about her goddamn hands. He knows she knows, and he knows she's looking at him, knowingly, but the thing is. The thing is? He doesn't know what the fuck that means.

He's pounding water backstage, watching her command the kids, her bright smile and her angry thrash. He can't see her hands, it's too dark, the lights guy is throwing a fucking rave on her for "Trans Soul Rebel", and anyway his eyes are full of sweat and his fucking sweater is clammy. He needs a shower and a ten hour nap, but how often will he get the chance to watch her burn with life like this? Even if the answer is 'five times a week for the next month and a half' he doesn't give a shit, it's too precious to waste.

She beckons him onstage for Against Me!'s encore, and everything kind of hurts. His stomach hurts (what else is new) and his fucking toe hurts from where he kicked the mic stand a little too enthusiastically and his face hurts from laughing and mouthing along with her singing, and, goddamnit, his heart is hurting a little bit, too.

After the encore, he's cooled down enough to be uncomfortable again backstage, and she strides off, flushed and buzzing with energy. She crowds into his space, towering over him and that elegant black arm traps him against a wall.

"We're sending your crew out on the town and locking the door on your bus," she says, and her voice hammers in his ears. "Have you ever been tied up, Frank? I really think you're going to like it." Fuck's sake, did everyone backstage hear that?

"Uh," Frank says intelligently.

"Think about it," she murmurs, and she's gone a little softer in the shoulders, leaning in with a sharp, shit-eating grin. Her teeth are shiny in the light. She's so fucking intense.

"I gotta, um. I gotta call my wife?"

She chuckles in his ear, and the charge in the air seems to back off a little bit. "Sure. You're a good boy, Frankie. Call your wife and take a fucking shower. I'll be over in an hour. If she and you aren't cool about it, we'll just hang out." She leans back, giving him back his personal space, ruffling his hair up in a friendly way before disappearing backstage. The exit light is flickering.

Frank rubs his fingers through his hair, which is so gross and he regrets it immediately. "Wow," he says, and grins.

~~~

"Babe, you know how you get about tour flings," is not actually the phrase Frank expected to hear, but in retrospect he should have. He feels his anxiety drop precipitously at her low chuckle. God, he misses her when he's on the road.

"I don't think Dewees would appreciate being called a 'fling', and anyhow... I think this will be different? I don't really know," he sighs, rubbing his eyes.

"Dewees would laugh at you for six weeks to hear you call him that, babe. You don't really know? Do you think maybe you want to figure that out before she comes over?" he can hear a couple of the dogs' collars jangling in the background, and the slide of the patio door. The furry stampede sounds staticky over the cell connection.

"I mean, I think usually people tie other people up as a prelude for fucking, right?"

"Do you want her to fuck you, Frank?" Jamia's voice is patient but there's a low note in it. "I bet she's good at it, but hey. It's up to you."

He thinks about it for a minute, but doesn't really have the words to answer. "Maybe? I think so?"

Finally, Jamia chuckles fondly. "Munchkin's yelling, I gotta go. You've got my blessing if you need it. You know the drill. Send pics if you get 'em. Love you," she says.

"I love you more," he whispers fervently just before the click of the line.

 

~~~

She doesn't knock, barging in with a fragrant bag of freshly-ground coffee--god, he loves that they have a burr grinder on the Against Me! Bus--and flops at the dinette table. She's got a bag with her, and he can't keep his curiosity under wraps.

"God, you're the best," he says, snatching up the coffee and heading straight to the coffeemaker. His shower left him feeling centered and a little sleepy, come down from the post-show jitters. He probably shouldn't have coffee, it's late and his stupid fucking stomach will rebel, but you only live once and there's a gorgeous woman stretching her incredibly long legs out across his tour bus. He can sleep when he's dead.

"I try," she says with a hoarse chuckle. Her voice is always shot after a show. She's cleaned up some, but the semi-permanent crusts of eyeliner that she's not careful enough to wipe all the way off make her regard slightly unnerving. The silent, slightly amused stare she gives him stretches out for long enough for the coffeepot to groan out a mug's worth of coffee. He fills half a mug for her and half a mug for him before replacing the carafe to finish brewing.

"So." Frank stares down at his hands, wrapping them around the mug. "Kid go down okay?"

"Yeah, she's out like a light," Laura says, leaning forward and resting her elbows on her knees. Another awkward silence--fuck, he's really blowing this--and then, "So did you and Jamia talk?"

"Yeah, uh. She's cool with it? But she's also smarter than me and, well. She asked, it was a good point, um. What… exactly do you want to do? With me?" Frank says, lifting his gaze to meet hers with a little challenge.

Her smile goes bright and big, "I thought you'd never ask! C'mere." She pats the couch, scooting over, and he sits. "I like you, Frank. You're talented, funny, and you're just enough of an asshole that I think this'll be interesting." She leans away from him to pick up the bag. She pushes their coffee mugs away and swipes the tabletop with her sleeve before upending the bag in front of him in a pile. A weird pair of crooked scissors and a length of black cloth are tossed in with several tidy bundles of black rope. It looks like a really fancy murder kit.

"Looks like you forgot the shovel," he quips.

"Forgot the ball gag, too," she shoots back, grinning.

"Okay, so like, you… tie me up and then… do we fuck? Because if we do, we're going to have to run out for some condoms and lube unless you've got them hidden somewhere…"

She stares at him for a second and then bursts out laughing.

"Oh my god. Dude. You're hot and everything but… I'm really not into fucking dudes. Most of the time."

"But…"

She leans a little closer, picking up a bundle of rope and hefting it consideringly. "I mean, I've done it before and I might do it again if I feel like it, but it's not really in my plans for tonight."

Frank's face is burning. "I think I'm relieved?"

She squints at him, lips quirking in a brittle smile. "Okay, you know what? Tonight's the AMA on this shit, but we're not doing anything until it seems to both of us like we're on the same page."

Frank feels his heart rate kick up a notch. "Wait, but… I said let's try it. We totally can, if you still want to?" God why is this so awkward?

Her gaze levels on him and he can't look away from that crusty bit of mascara clinging to the tip of her eyelash. "Babe, there's no hurry. Plus, I want you to want it, and if you don't even know what it is… well." She turns to the dinette table and gestures expansively over the collection. "Whaddya want to know?"

*****

The next two weeks are hard going on the road. Their schedule is grueling and he's missing his family like crazy, and he's starting to come down with something so he's trying to baby himself as best he can.

Also, he loves his wife, but she can be such a jerk sometimes. She laughed in delight when he told her how the evening with Laura went, then proceeded to grill him in fascination about everything she told him. She gets on tumblr and starts texting him images of (mostly thin, pretty, young, tattooed) women all trussed up and bound, with an ever increasing number of exclamation points.

"You are such a troll" he tells her one night, laughing to cover the slight thread of annoyance he's feeling. "We're not equipped for most of that stuff in the tour bus anyway, and okay I'm a small guy but even I don't bend that way."

"Seriously, though, I want pics," she replies breezily.

"Not sure that's on the table, babe, but I'll make sure you get some if it comes up."

"Frank," she says, gently. "I don't think she'll mind. You just have to let her know if you want this. You just gotta ask."

He picks at the fraying hem of the t-shirt he's wearing, staring out at the grimy Indiana or Illinois or wherever countryside speeding by. "I know. We've talked about what it is and it's clearly not a big thing, or it doesn't have to be, it's just. Everything feels kinda big, you know? Being on the road is just this weird alternate reality."

"OK, so she showed you some rope and talked a little about what she likes to do to people with it, and what she likes about it. What do you think you'd like about it?"

Frank sighed. "I did some Googling and, I dunno. There's a lot of humiliation stuff out there, I don't think I'm into that. But… I like to try new things, and I like it when people are good at and love what they do? I'm curious. And she seems like she'll make it interesting."

Jamia snorts knowingly. "Just ask her. Do it. You can look at all the hot porn and internet posts you want, but I think you'll never really get it if you don't just try it. Love you lots, but sometimes you need such a big push, Frankie."

The problem is, she's right. After they hang up, he fires off a message to Laura Jane.

K let's hang out, just u n me tonight? My bus

She must be fucking around on her phone, too, because the reply is swift. Yes see you after the show.

*****

She has fancy soda, the kind with a name he's not sure how to pronounce exactly but it's really fizzy going down. It makes him giggle a little, chugging a brash gulp the minute she pops the cap and hands it to him. The condensation on the outside is really cold. It feels shockingly good after the hot shower he'd just taken. He's buzzing a little, feeling a little frenetic despite coming down from the high of tonight's show. There's a tinny little hum racketing around his eardrums and his skin feels like each nerve ending is paying close attention to every fucking thing he does.

She's got the bag with her. She locks the bus door with a flourish, then paces around the bus like a tiger in a too-small cage, tugging all the shades closed. He can't keep his eyes off her long fingers. She stops and turns to him, grabbing his wrist and encircling it with her thumb and forefinger.

"So. Rope?" she smiles.

"Yeah," he says, grinning back and biting his lip. Her answering smile is open and gleeful in a slightly predatory, surprised way. It reminds him a little bit of that moment when one of the dogs actually makes off with a chew toy it didn't think it was going to get.

"OK, so we've talked. You've Googled. Any questions? Particular requests?"

Frank smiles. "You know way more about this than I do, and I trust that. I've seen you play--I love how intense you are with a guitar and mic. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't at all nervous, but.. Yeah. I want to see what you're going to want to do."

Laura Jane looks at him like he just gave her the world's biggest present. "Excellent. Okay, before we get started, let's talk limits. This rope is my general play kit, and as such I'm pretty careful about it staying safe for other partners. That means rope isn't going to touch your junk or mine tonight, not directly. You keep your tighty-whiteys on or whatever you're hiding under those grandpa jeans. We'll do our best to avoid drawing blood, which is pretty unusual but can happen if you have a scab or something. If your blood touches the rope, then that rope becomes yours. With me?"

Frank snorts. "I was thinking I'd… wear what I'm wearing now, and I don't think I have any scabs right now anywhere?"

"You'd have me put rope on you entirely over clothes? I can do that, sure, but I think you'd be missing out on a real special element of bottoming for rope. Maybe pajama pants and a shirt?" He shrugs and nods.

"The most common issue with rope I've seen isn't death, it's nerve damage and joint strain. I'll be putting you into some uncomfortable positions, and just to be safe we'll keep from the major issue spots on your arms and wrists, but if you feel any tingling or loss of sensation, or you just have a bad feeling about a position I've got you in, let me know. I'll do things so it's real easy to adjust."

Frank nods again.

"Great. Okay, so look," she says, pulling his wrist up so his hand is sticking up between them. "Full disclosure. I don't know if you've done any subbing before, but, uh. I'm feeling that vibe between us." Her fingers tighten a tiny bit, and Frank's breath catches. She steps in a little bit closer, her long hair brushing his hand. "I don't think that should be our focus tonight, but I just want you to know that if you find yourself going into a subby place, and you like being there, that's just fine, but know that I won't do anything we didn't talk about first. If you start freaking out for any reason, just say 'stop'. Tonight we're not going to do any psychological stuff, consent play or fear play, and not much pain play so we shouldn't need a separate safeword unless you want to use one. Does that work for you?"

"Yeah," Frank says, feeling some of the nervous tension leach away. "I've never done, like. The kind of stuff I think you're talking about. Submission stuff. But, like. I like being held down during sex, and I like…" he feels like she's just too far away, so he shoves his head into her chest. "I like being kind of an asshole and getting taken down for it? I like surprises. So."

Her left arm comes up to scratch lightly through his hair, and his wrist is getting sweaty where she's hanging onto it with her other hand. He can feel the vibration of her chest as she chuckles low. "Duly noted. What else should I know, Frank? Do you want me to be rough with you while I tie you up?"

The tinny whine in his ears feels more like a dull roar now. "That's, uh. That's a very leading question…" he groans as her hand curls into a loose fist, gripping his hair just tight enough to remind him that each hair is, yes, connected to a follicle. And a nerve. "Yeah, please," he mutters. "I like that."

She grips harder, tugging his head away from her chest. "Stay with me a minute longer, Frank." The growl in her voice is exciting, but grounds him, too. He blinks at her.

"We're not going to fuck tonight, Frankie, but depending on how you like your rough body play, there could be bites, which mean bruises. I can lay the rope gentle or put it down mean, which can mean rope burn, bruises that last a couple days. How do you feel about that?"

Frank laughs, "Yeah, a little biting I guess, bruising is good. Maybe lay off my neck and stuff."

Laura Jane nods. "Do you like pain for its own sake, or do you just like the rush of the fight?"

"I'm not really sure? I like it when J bites me, but she doesn't do it as, like, a really intense Thing, you know?"

Laura Jane nods again. Her face is pensive as she studies him, and he feels a rush of nerves. This incredibly talented woman is going to lay hands on him.

"Frank," she murmurs, "I'm going to tie you up now. Right here on your shitty little tour bus couch. Do you need anything before we get started?"

Frank grins sheepishly. "I should really take a piss, y'know?" she grins and nods.

By the time he gets back, she's unloaded the bag and sorted the bundles of rope into a couple of piles. The weird scissors--surgical shears, she had told him--are attached to her belt loop with a carabiner. She's stripped off her hoodie and just has on a tank top and her skintight jeans. She's staring at him with an unselfconscious intensity, every line of her body leaning toward him. She's so fucking gorgeous, and he's rarely felt quite this mixture of anticipatory excitement tinged with fear.

"Sit down," she says, gesturing grandly toward the couch. "Make yourself comfortable."

He takes that to mean it's time to striip, so he does, peeling his t-shirt off in one awkward move and slinging it over the back of the couch. She raises an eyebrow at him.

"Give me your hands, babe," she says, and her hands envelop his, chafing his wrists slightly with the tips of her fingers while pressing his palms together between hers. She sits next to him on the couch and their hands rest together on her knee for a moment. "Keep 'em there."

She grabs one of the smaller bundles, dropping it like a yo-yo with a flourish. Frank tries not to giggle.

The rope is slightly scratchy on his wrist. He stares as she takes the doubled length and wraps it a couple of times around both of his wrists. She does some deft twists between his hands, frowning as she adjusts it a bit, testing the fit with a couple of fingers against his pulse before appearing satisfied. As she stands up he tugs experimentally. With some dedicated work he could probably slip out in a matter of minutes, but it's really pretty secure. The trailing end sprawls out on the couch cushion.

"I always like to start with the wrists," she explains, going for one of the longer pieces and unrolling it. "It helps set the tone." She leans into him, crowding into his space, planting one knee on the couch right between his legs. He catches a whiff of her, mostly the bitter undertaste of sweat under a no-nonsense shampoo. She loops the rope around his chest a few times, swift and almost perfunctory, and as each line touches his skin he feels the gentle, containing pressure of it through his ribs. She knots it off on the side, and he takes in a half breath just to feel the compression. It's… interesting.

"There we go," Laura Jane croons, and adds another piece to the front of the band spanning his chest and ribs. She does something complicated-seeming in the back, which involves some muttered curses, before she seems satisfied enough to push him onto his side and lash his ankles together. He curls his bound wrists up under his cheek, rubbing an itch against the rope and inhaling the dense scent of the rope. It's like… hay, he thinks. Really yummy delicious hay.

She starts in on something up his leg and he drifts a little, exhaustion starting to reassert itself like a warm glow creeping into his limbs. She seems to sense that he's getting more relaxed, because she pauses for a moment, crouching next to him and laying a massive comforting hand on his neck and shoulder. They breathe together for a moment, and he can feel her quiet intent gaze on him the whole time.

"How you feeling? Tingles anywhere?"

Frank knows he's getting loopy because that does surprise a giggle out of him. "I'll show you tingles," he mutters.

"Oh, you will, will you?" she says, and the challenge in her voice makes him shiver. She grabs another smaller bundle and whips it between his ankles, feeds it up throuh whatever the fuck is going on at his back, and then she half sits on him to keep him still while she feeds it none-too-gently through the loops binding his hands.

She stands up, crowding his vision on the couch as she lifts one long leg theatrically, setting her boot at the small of his back. She grins down at him wickedly before hauling up on the rope in her hands, yanking his feet up and putting the slightest bend in his back.

"Motherfucker!" Frank yells, twisting and wiggling as she laughs evilly. He makes a concerted try at escaping his bonds, and his lower half falls halfway off the couch, bonking his foot on the corner of the table.

"If you just stay where I put you..." Laura Jane grits through clenched teeth. She takes yet another piece of rope and in a swift motion he can't really see, she wraps it tightly around his calf, which…

"OW fucking hell!" Frank yells, and he's outraged that something that looks relatively innocuous can just suddenly hurt like that, but he's also flooded with more endorphins and holy shit, he can't stop laughing.

"My dear, you have no idea," Laura Jane says, and she's petting his hair while she wrenches even harder on the rope around his calf. It's such a mindfuck, and he's gasping, and he loves it.

Frank is laughing so hard he's starting to wheeze, and the band of rope around his chest makes it all feel a little bit heightened, a little bit more.

She nudges him with her foot, waiting for him to stop testing the bonds. He feels silly, trussed up and sprawling on the floor. Looking at the situation objectively, it should be kind of weird. But the intensity of her gaze, the surprise, the sparkling, laughing challenge of escape… it's making him a little bit giddy.

He slumps all the way to the floor, growling a bit, and finds he can't do much or get anywhere, really. He struggles more, panting, fetching up against Laura's leg. She grabs a fistful of hair and hauls him up on his knees, weight on her left leg. It burns deliciously, the pain in his scalp flows down like an incredibly rich, hot wave. He feels like he can taste it in his muscles, it's so good.

He starts crooning gently into her knee, nonsense syllables and hiccuping giggles. Wow this happened fast, he thinks, in a moment of self-consciousness.

"You're lovely on your knees, Frank," Laura Jane tells him. She still has a fistful of his hair and she's supporting him with her leg and her hand, craning his head up and taking some of the tension off the rope. He's absurdly grateful for every place she's touching him. "You're a darling boy, you are. Come, let's get you comfortable."

Laura Jane leans over him, and before he can protest, she's actually fucking lifting him into the air and dropping him on the fucking couch. She's doing something at the back of the chest piece, and his legs and arms get released from one another. They're still bound together, but that's comfortable. Comforting. Something. She flops down next to him, pulling him bodily into her lap, and, okay, yeah, he likes this. He likes it on a deep level, like, cellular, like maybe down to the mitochondria.

He doesn't know how long they lay there, quiet, letting the moment hum between them. He feels dazed, sated, even though it maybe wasn't that long and okay, nobody really got off. It doesn't matter. He remembers that shit Gerard sometimes spews about that other plane you get to in meditation and thinks, wow, maybe this is what that's like.

It doesn't matter. Laura Jane Grace, rock star and international woman of mystery, incredibly good with her hands, is stroking his hair. She doesn't feel exactly familiar, they don't know each other quite that well, but she feels… peaceful. Solid. Her breathing is matching his, he thinks. Her thigh is super comfortable.

After a while, she starts stroking his head, then his arm and over his chest. He feels her tracing her nails along some of the designs in his tattoos, dipping under the rope to follow the curve of ink. His body is a wild scrapbook, and he's really fucking proud of it but it's weird to just… be like this. Naked yet not, with someone who doesn't know his body inside and out, but whose fingers are fascinated. He shivers with the sensation.

"Ready to come up, Frankie?" her voice is a little scratchy, and suddenly the fatigue of the day hits him like a sledgehammer. They're both tired, he can feel it in the weight of her arm as she relaxes it over him, pulling him a little closer in.

"Yeah," he says, and is surprised at how dry his mouth is. "Um. Water?"

"Coming right up," she says, leaning back and snagging a water bottle from the table, next to the few bundles of rope that aren't totally strewn over the couch or still wrapped around him. She starts working gently at his ankles, then his wrists. He feels a little empty, in the good way, like when you've poured everything you've got out onto the page or into the strings of your guitar.

He catches her hand, interrupting her gentle pet of his arm. "Hey," he says, and he knows the room is dim but looking up and meeting her gaze is suddenly so fucking bright. "That was…" his tongue feels glues to the roof of his mouth. "I really…"

Laura Jane grins and pulls him in for a hug. "Yeah, Frank. I had a nice time, too. You look really fucking good in my rope, you know that?"

Frank groans and rubs his face into her tank top. "Fuck, I was supposed to ask you to snap a pic for Jamia."

She laughs and rubs his hair the wrong way, fucking it up even more than it already was. "Babe, next time I'll do something really fucking pretty for your lovely wife."

Frank chokes out a little laugh. "Yeah. Next time, for sure."