About ninety percent of the time, Ray thinks investing in a house with his best friends is the most brilliant thing he’s ever done. He’s got one bedroom, Frank’s got the other, Gerard has the attic, and Mikey’s got what is supposed to be the sunroom, but now all the windows are covered in posters and Gerard’s art. The coffee quality is high, they’ve got the same basic tastes in music, and the mortgage is low once it's split four ways.
It's the remaining ten percent that sucks. Specifically, Fridays. Well, technically that would be fourteen percent, if Ray cared about math. He generally doesn’t though. Calculating stuff in his head instead of on his phone ranks really low in level of importance. Higher than making sure he’s bought the brand of cookies Mikey likes when it’s his turn to grocery shop, but lower than about ninety percent of the things in his life.
Fridays are Frank’s date days. His life is pretty busy, but he doesn’t tend to miss them. Ray’s seen him juggle responsibilities like mad in order to have those few hours free. Frank hasn’t landed a boyfriend yet, but no one considers that surprising. Ray assumes it has to do with Frank’s kinks. He hasn’t found the rope loving ying to his knot tying yang. Or whatever the particulars happen to be. Gerard can be oddly chaste and innocent, and there are some details Ray just doesn’t need to know. The only one of them who could ask without an awkward blush is Mikey, and as far as Ray knows, he hasn’t.
There is, however, a difference between asking Frank for details and imagining them. Ray calls it the Jack Nicholson effect, ie: the man who said ‘you can’t handle the truth’. Ray damn well can’t. Frank’s already a big oversharer, Ray doesn’t need any more images to climb into his brain and set up shop.
So around maybe nine thirty Ray locks his bedroom door -the only lock in the house, although Gerard’s retractable stairs count as a decent barrier- and pushes his jeans down to his knees. A lifetime of jerking off in the shower has accustomed him to do it standing up, and tonight is no different. Ray leans against the door, confident that his mass of hair will act as a good cushion for the back of his skull for when his head starts thrashing. His power stance should prevent his knees from buckling too. He can’t even imagine the sheer amount of crap he’d get if he fell over jerking off and injured himself. It happened once when Ray was a teenager, almost eight years ago, and Lou still brings up"that time you ripped the shower curtain off the rings and sprained your ankle".
Franks' got about a billion profiles scattered all over: Grindr, Plentyoffish and sites Ray's probably never even heard of. Ray might've stumbled across a couple of Frank's profiles. Maybe. Accidentally-on-purpose. Frank wouldn't even care. He found it funny when Mikey found his first ever account and shouted suggestions for better pictures from across the house. It’s kind of a joke these days; Frank’s got a different picture on every site, basically every era of hair represented, and takes votes on whether red spiky hair or bleach white with a black mohawk should go up next. One thing every profile has in common is the acronym AIC. A lot of people use acronyms, and most are easy to figure out. But whatever Frank is Also Into that he wants enough to let everyone know before they even bother to contact him, Ray hasn’t figured it out yet. There are so many things that start with the letter C.
Tonight, Ray’s imagination flits around before landing on an image of Frank naked, all but for a corset. He’s not entirely sure how Frank would look like wearing one in real life, but in his imagination it’s all black PVC with obvious boning against pale skin and tattoos peering around the edges. Ray doesn’t even need to imagine Frank's lower half, everything from the waist up is really doing it for him.
His hand works his dick as he wonders about the specifics. Would Frank be sweaty and hot if he approached? Ray would like that, Frank being needy, his hands dragging on Frank’s sticky skin. Or would he smell like talc powder, used to prevent chafing? That would be hot too, Frank smelling like competence.
Just moments before Ray reaches the point of no return, he stills his hand. He made a deal with himself, ages ago, to not orgasm over what Frank might be doing in some apartment or hotel until Frank is safely home. To do anything else feels wrong. Ray staggers the few feet to his bed and plops backwards. He’ll just lay spread eagle, with no body part touching any other body part until all of him calms down.
Frank gets home around eleven. They’re all still up, of course, they’re in their twenties and it’s a Friday. And yeah, maybe Ray is up for Frank specifically, because he could be out with other friends, or dicking around with his guitar, but he’s not, he’s sitting in the living room waiting. So what? Even if he didn’t secretly want to date him, he’d still be waiting for a debrief. Gerard and Mikey are, and they don’t have huge crushes.
There’s the double thud of shoes being kicked off towards the wall, then the creak of feet down the wooden hallway. Ray adjusts on the couch so there’s room for Frank if he wants, but Frank goes for the matching armchair beside Mikey’s old as balls recliner. He throws himself dramatically on it. “I need pizza. Pizza is the only thing that will sustain my will to live.”
“That bad, huh?”
Frank chuckles lowly. “God, you don’t even know.”
“You know you can say no, right?”
“Yes mom, I know what consent is. I just always hope they’ll wanna do what I wanna do, and then-”
“Doesn’t live up to your expectations,” Gerard finishes, wisely.
“I’ll never find the perfect dude.”
Mikey doesn’t look up from his phone, just doles out the empathy by rote. “That's better than finding him and not being able to have him anyway.”
Well, half assed empathy. Gerard’s the Way to go to if you want a vent session, not Mikey.
“I am seriously sympathetic to your Stump problem, I really am, even though we talk about it like fifty times a day, and it gets fucking old. But seriously, can we just have one minute where we focus on how Frank's never satisfied?”
“Referring to yourself in third is douchy.”
“Your face is douchy!”
Ray twists a bit so he can bury his face in Gerard’s shoulder. It’s his left shoulder, so Gerard won’t mind. Really, Ray could probably use any and every part of Gerard as furniture except his drawing hand without Gerard caring.
Once Mikey and Frank have worn themselves out on that piece of bickering -neither looking in the least upset, because they don’t actually fight, they just bitch aimlessly sometimes- Frank goes back to his first refrain. “I’m never gonna find a guy that likes what I like. I don’t care if I’m getting picky in my old age-”
“You’re twenty five,” Ray points out.
“I don’t care if I’m getting picky in my young age," Frank repeats with bonus eyeroll, "I just want a guy that will do it like it’s not a chore.”
Ray can practically see Gerard put on a Wise Yenta hat. Gerard’s only three months older than Ray is, but sometimes he seems to think that makes him Yoda. “You know, if you're into something weird, maybe you should see if there's a website or forum or something for it. Like specifically, instead of just doing the general Plentyoffish thing, then adding an ‘oh by the way’. You might get other people who are into it.”
Frank frowns contemplatively. “You think cuddling is that weird? Is it because I’m a guy? It’s practically expected of girls.”
“Wait wait wait. Hold the fucking phone. This whole time your A.I.C has been about cuddling? Fucking seriously?” Gerard asks.
“Uh, yeah? The first, well, year I was out it was all sex get out, sex get out, sex get out. With a few ‘you can sleep here in my bed, but you need to get out by eight am, and don’t touch me’ thrown in for variety. Which sucked. So I put it in my profile. Still don’t get enough guys into it though.”
“Because no one knows what it stands for, you giant fucking-” Ray cuts himself off. He’s shouting, being way too dramatic. “No one knew,” he repeats, this time aiming for calm. “I didn’t even figure it out. I thought you might like comeplay, or choking, or cuckolding.”
Frank tilts his head and blinks like a big damn owl. “You thought about it?”
Shit and double shit.
Before Ray can even start to think up of a good friendly reason for thinking about Frank in bed, Mikey speaks up. “He totally thinks about it. I’m pretty sure he jerks off when you’re on dates.”
There’s nothing convenient to throw at Mikey, so Ray settles for a glare. “You are an asshole and there will be revenge.”
“How about you wait to see Frank’s response before you threaten me?”
Mikey’s maybe got the slightest thread of a point, even if he is a huge shit stirrer. Frank doesn’t look freaked out at all.
“So let me summarise this situation: you like me. You’re hot. You’ve hugged me like a thousand times and you’ve got really good hugging arms.”
“Yeaaah?” Ray draws out.
“Gerard, move or you’re gonna get squished.”
It’s the only warning before Frank gets off his recliner and flings himself onto the both of them. It’s pure instinct for Ray to wrap his arms around Frank so he doesn’t fall from his precarious perch onto the floor, and once he’s got his arms around him he doesn’t really want to move them. Nor does Frank try to pull away. If anything he settles in, nestling his face into the curve of Ray’s neck and not so subtly kneeing Gerard until he says “ow!” and relocates to the recently emptied recliner.
“So, what, they’re dating now?” Mikey asks.
“This was inevitable from day one,” Gerard replies.
Ray could maybe have used that blessing before now, but it’s nice to hear. Almost as nice as Frank’s relaxed breathing beside his ear. It stays the most noticeable sound in the room even as Gerard turns on the tv for Nick at Nite, which is the weekly signal that the post-date debriefing is over. No one says anything more, Ray just holds Frank and watches Ren and Stimpy while Mikey and Gerard casually ignore them. He could get used to this being the new Friday night.