In Repair

Gerard Way/Frank Iero. NC-17. ~33,000 words. Underage. Robots. (But not underage robots.) Written for 2012.
“Shit,” Frank mutters, and shoves both hands through his hair. He looks around the kitchen like he’s gonna find what he should do scratched into the old linoleum, then looks back at the bot. He gnaws on his lip. Fuck it. He already knows what he’s gonna do. He’s just gotta do it.
Getting down on his knees, he braces a hand on the edge of the crate and leans over the bot. It’s dressed in a plain white tee and matching drawstring pants like an escaped mental patient. Frank rolls his neck and cracks his knuckles, shaking the ache out of them before carefully laying his palm against its cheek. He’s pretty sure his voice is steady when he says, “Activate.”
Nothing happens. Fucking shitty packaging– the thing’s busted. But Frank keeps his hand where it is, jumping a little when he feels the surge of energy beneath it. The robot’s skin goes from room temperature to lukewarm, then warm. Frank watches it open its eyes, the light behind them adjusting until they’re a pale sort of brown. It looks at him and asks, “Am I dead?”

“Sign here,” says the crusty dude with the tablet standing on Frank’s front stoop.

Frank gives him and the stylus he’s holding out the hairy eyeball. The rumpled uniform the guy’s wearing looks legit, as does the mud-spattered van parked three spaces up the street. Frank knew his mom got the new bot at bargain-basement prices, but wow. He hopes that battered wooden crate kept it in one piece.

As Frank signs, the dude asks, “You need help getting that inside, kid?”

“Duh,” Frank says. He’s shit fuck all over five feet, that crate is like twice his size.

The delivery guy sighs and chucks his tablet on top of the crate. “Back it up,” he grumbles, waving Frank away. Frank hitches up an eyebrow and steps out to hold the screen door wide, watching as the dude grunts and sweats and wrestles the thing into the house. When he’s done, he gives Frank a look like he’s expecting a tip, but Frank just shrugs. He’s sixteen and pretty sure his mom hit up the black market for this thing. It’s not like he’s flush.

“Thanks,” the dude grouses, and Frank smiles cheerily, shouting, “Have a great day!” at his back. Frank’s got more important shit than this dude’s job dissatisfaction to worry about.

The crate’s in the kitchen, laid out flat on the floor between the counter and the table. Frank scrubs his palms off on his jeans and circles it a couple times. Now that it’s just him and the bot, he’s kinda nervous. He should wait until his mom gets home. But he’s been waiting for weeks since Mom told him they’d finally be getting one. And months, and fuck, years, before that.

There’s no maker’s mark stamped on the wood. It figures, ’cause he bets whoever built this thing doesn’t want the credit. Trying to figure out if he needs to go dig up a crowbar, he finds hinges on one side and two shoddy latches on the other. He wipes his hands off again and flips them both open, takes a deep breath, and shoves.

The flimsy top flies up, hangs in midair for a sec, then falls right off the other side with a crash and the crack of splintered wood. Frank winces. That better not have been a cupboard or Mom is gonna fucking murder him. And when she’s done with him, she’s probably gonna murder the dude that sold her the bot, too, ’cause it doesn’t even have a pod. It’s packed in shredded paper like it’s fucking 1995, no plastic cover to protect it, no foam, nothing. It’s got scraggly black hair tangled around a pale face, a crooked mouth, too-sharp shoulders and long, delicate hands, and no way did this bot come off a department store floor. Nobody would design an android that way unless they were trying to recreate something. Lying there in the crate, it looks dead.

“Shit,” Frank mutters, and shoves both hands through his hair. He looks around the kitchen like he’s gonna find what he should do scratched into the old linoleum, then looks back at the bot. He gnaws on his lip. Fuck it. He already knows what he’s gonna do. He’s just gotta do it.

Getting down on his knees, he braces a hand on the edge of the crate and leans over the bot. It’s dressed in a plain white tee and matching drawstring pants like an escaped mental patient. Frank rolls his neck and cracks his knuckles, shaking the ache out of them before carefully laying his palm against its cheek. He’s pretty sure his voice is steady when he says, “Activate.”

Nothing happens. Fucking shitty packaging– the thing’s busted. But Frank keeps his hand where it is, jumping a little when he feels the surge of energy beneath it. The robot’s skin goes from room temperature to lukewarm, then warm. Frank watches it open its eyes, the light behind them adjusting until they’re a pale sort of brown. It looks at him and asks, “Am I dead?”

Frank fucking knew it.

*

“Oh,” his mom says.

“Yeah,” Frank says, looking at the bot sitting placidly on the couch. “Oh.”

She folds her arms, cupping her elbow with the palm of one hand and her chin with the other. “I suppose it’s too late now.”

The bot’s steady gaze shifts from a tear in the upholstery to Frank, then back again. Frank says, “Guess he didn’t come with a money-back guarantee, huh.”

Mom says, “No,” and presses the heel of her hand over her mouth. A muffled noise suspiciously like a giggle escapes. “No, Frankie, it really didn’t.”

“Good,” the bot says, startling them both. “I don’t want to die.”

“Deactivate,” Frank says, and quickly adds, “no, don’t,” when the light starts to fade from its eyes. “I mean, you mean you don’t want to be deactivated. You can’t die, dude.”

“You wake up again when you go to sleep,” says the bot, staring at its knees. “Not when you’re dead.” Its voice is weirdly modulated. Like, it has the ability to simulate the rise and fall of normal conversation–same as every android ever–but this thing sounds like it’s two steps away from flinging itself off a bridge despite the whole I-don’t-want-to-die bit. Lifting its head, its gaze lands square on Frank. “I understand the difference.”

Okay, so maybe it’s got a reason. Frank glances over at his mom. She looks kinda wigged out around the edges. Frank was pretty wigged out after a half-hour’s conversation with it. Bots don’t usually have a whole hell of a lot to say on their own. This one doesn’t fucking shut up. Mostly, though, Mom looks sad, and kinda like she does want to murder the dude who sold her the bot, and not because it’s got some pretty obvious glitches with its personality simulator.

“Alright,” she says, squaring her shoulders. “This isn’t exactly what I had in mind, but we’ll make it work. Please tell me there are no surprises in your basic programming, because someone didn’t turn on the dishwasher like I asked three times today and I’m in absolutely no mood to cook.”

Frank winces. “Sorry.”

“I can do that,” the bot says, bolting off the couch with the same weird, mechanical grace as when it climbed out of the crate. “That’s easy.” It turns to Frank. “You press a button.”

Mom puts her face in her hands. “Oh lord.”

*

It turns out the bot can actually cook, if by ‘cook’ you mean ‘open some cans and make some sandwiches’. While his mom is upstairs changing out of her uniform, Frank demonstrates that he in fact does know how to work a dishwasher.

“Good job,” the bot says earnestly.

“Uh, thanks?”

Busily arranging veggies on slices of toasted bread, the bot asks, “Are you old enough to stir the soup?”

Frank wonders what the bot would do if he said no. Deciding the potential hilarity isn’t worth the risk, he picks up the spoon and gives the soup a few careful swishes. The bot looks on approvingly. “So, dude,” he says, “you got a name?”

The smooth shift of metal joints and wires stills. Frank looks up from its hands and keeps slowly stirring the soup. “I have a designation,” it says.

“Yeah, I know.” Frank knocks the spoon off on the edge of the pot and sets it down on the counter in the small puddle of soup already there. “But unless you want me to start calling you Three-p-o, we gotta give you a name.”

Staring at the really fucking well-built and artistically-arranged triangles of sandwiches on the plate in front of it, the bot says, “Gerard. My name was supposed to be Gerard.”

Though the bot is over a foot taller than Frank, its frame built to simulate an adult, its face is young. He’s been trying not to think about that, the same as he’s been trying not to think about the look in its eyes when they first opened, but the longer it– The longer Gerard is up and moving and talking, the tougher it is.

“Okay,” Frank says, swallowing hard and reaching for the cupboard. “Nice to meet you, Gerard.”

Gerard takes the bowls Frank hands over and just stands there, holding them against its chest. There’s water splashed all over the front of its shirt from where it washed the vegetables in the sink, and its skin shows through the wettest spots, even paler through the white. It takes Frank a few seconds to figure out he’s staring, then a few more to figure out Gerard hasn’t said anything. He blinks a couple times and drags his gaze upward.

“Hi, Frankie,” Gerard says quietly, watching him way too intently. “It’s nice to meet you, too.”

Upstairs, the lid on the washer clangs shut. Frank jumps ten fucking miles straight out of his skin.

Gerard’s eyebrows draw together. “Frankie is your name, isn’t it?”

“Yeah,” Frank says, groping for the counter. He sags against it gratefully and thumps at his chest with a fist. “Yeah, wow. I’m okay. Scared the shit outta me. Fuck.”

“Language, Frank!” comes Mom’s voice from the stairs.

“Sorry!” Frank calls back. Gerard’s forehead is still all creased up. It’s fucking freaky how real he looks when Frank can hear the steady, low-grade hum of his systems running. “Frank,” he says, taking the bowls back and setting them on the stovetop. “My name’s Frank. But, uh, yeah, you can call me whatever, I guess.”

“Not whatever,” Gerard corrects, and smiles. “Frankie.”

Something thick and hard lodges in Frank’s throat. For a second, he’s pretty sure he’s gonna choke on it, but when Gerard turns to yell, “Mom, dinner’s ready!” at the stairs, it comes out in a burst of hysterical laughter.

A handful of seconds later, Mom appears in the doorway, laundry basket full of towels balanced on her hip and a frown on her face. Frank laughs harder.

*

After dinner, Frank helps fold the laundry while his mom gives Gerard a tour of the house. It’s pretty quick, so Frank’s only halfway done by the time they come back. Gerard looks at him, then his mom, then him again before coming over to watch closely as Frank tucks the fancy little hand towels Mom likes to keep on the shelf above the toilet into neat rolls. Picking up the last one, Gerard deftly copies him.

“Nice,” Frank says. Frank’s read all about the pros and cons of different learning modules for androids, and even if he’s not exactly sure which one Gerard’s running–there was no manual in the crate, not even a note, and no certificate of ownership, either, so he hopes Gerard’s GPS is functioning smoothly or they’ll have a hell of a time proving he’s theirs if he gets lost–he figures he’ll stick with the positive reinforcement deal.

“I think it would be best if Gerard powers down in the living room,” his mom says, smiling as Gerard hands her the towel. She places it on the pile with Frank’s. “It would be nice to have some extra security down here at night.”

“I’m not designed for combat situations,” Gerard says, trying to roll one of the big bath towels up like the little ones.

Frank tugs it out of his grip, saying, “No, like this,” and slowly folds it up properly. “We only roll the small ones with the lace.”

“I can provide a shield, though,” Gerard goes on. “Why?”

Mom says, “Well, it’s just comforting to think you’re–”

“Why are these towels rolled, and these folded?” Gerard corrects. “I understand fear. The towels are confusing.”

“Oh,” Frank says. That’s totally not the kind of thing he ever expected to hear from an android. For the most part, droids deal in facts, sometimes theories. Emotions are complicated shit. “Uh. ‘Cause Mom likes it?”

Gerard looks over at Mom like he wants confirmation. She looks at Frank. He shrugs. “It looks nice,” she says.

Gerard’s expression goes blank for a split-second. Frank’s seen that happen before in vids, and while he knows exactly what it is–Gerard processing and storing information–it’s seriously fucking freaky watching it happen right in front of his face. Gerard is seriously fucking freaky. Some of it is because he bets Gerard isn’t exactly approved by the International Robotics and Android Association, but most of it is because no matter how good the vids are, or how closely Frank watched them, there’s no way they could capture how really unreal Gerard is. On screen, bots look like the same movie-magic that’s been happening for decades. Standing right in front of his face, there’s no question that Gerard is way more than clever editing, and still so far from human.

“Honey?” Mom says.

“Uh, yeah, sorry,” Frank says, clicking back in. “Yeah, I can lock up. You get some sleep.”

“Good night, sweetie,” his mom says, pulling him in for a quick, tight hug and dropping a kiss to his hair. “Don’t forget to put the towels away, okay? It’s no use folding them if you’re going to leave them to fall all over the floor.”

Frank says, “I got it, I got it,” and shoos her upstairs. Gerard’s watching with a slightly less blank look on his face, and Frank gets a little shiver up his spine, wondering exactly what’s going on in there, what Gerard thinks of them. But he knows that’s not how it works. Androids don’t think, not exactly. They’ve got difference engines and logic, though, and a whole bunch of other shit that makes them pretty damn smart.

After Mom goes upstairs again, this time with an armload of folded towels, Frank leads Gerard through the kitchen to show him the locks on the back door, tells him to make sure all the blinds are closed ’cause Mom hates mornings enough already without having the neighbours staring at her stumbling around pre-coffee, and then finishes with the front door. Back in the living room, Frank looks around. “So, uh. Questions?”

“You didn’t tell me what time you have to leave for school,” Gerard says.

“‘Cause I don’t.” Frank frowns. “Is your clock outta sync? What day is it?”

“Tuesday, August 9th,” answers Gerard promptly.

Frank has to dig his phone out of his pocket to make sure that’s right. “Huh,” he says, and scratches at the back of his neck. “Weird. Anyway, yeah. I’m not in school now.”

“You’re too young to have finished school. You have to finish school, Frankie,” Gerard says firmly. “It’s important for your future.”

Frank puts both hands up, palm out. “Whoa. Hang on. I didn’t say I dropped out, man, I said I’m not in school right now. It’s summer vacation.”

Gerard’s face does that weird blank thing again, then clears quickly. “Okay.”

Frank scratches at his neck again, not sure if that was an acknowledgement of an order type thing, or something else entirely. He wishes he knew enough about androids to check for himself, but those aren’t really the kind of vids he stays up late watching. He rubs harder at the heat staining his skin, then drops his hand with a huff. “Whatever. I’m gonna go to bed. You, uh, you stay down here and like, recharge or something. And don’t scare the shit outta Mom in the morning, okay?”

“Okay,” Gerard says easily, and before Frank can blink, his face is smushed into Gerard’s chest. He freezes. Literally fucking freezes, because Gerard smells weird and warm and metallic, like a fucking computer when it’s running hot, with this overlay of something kinda plastic and rubbery but not quite. He gets a fleeting impression of a too-solid frame, hard and unnatural everywhere Gerard’s holding him, and then Gerard’s kissing his hair and pushing him back. “Good night, Frankie.”

“Yeah, um,” Frank croaks, nearly tripping over his own goddamn feet. He turns an uncoordinated flail into a grab for the rest of the towels, stares at Gerard’s stupid pretty face, then takes off for the stairs like his fucking ass is on fire. “G’night!”

“G’night!” Gerard mimics happily.

*

It’s five to three in the morning. Frank hasn’t slept a fucking wink. He’s hunched over his laptop with the sound on mute, the covers pulled over his head to block the flickering light in case his mom wakes up to pee, and his shorts are fucking trashed. He’s still got his hand down the front of them, for fuck’s sake, and it doesn’t feel like he’s done yet. Not even fucking close.

On the screen, there are these two guys, both kinda tall and slim, one standing behind the other holding onto his hips and kissing his shoulders. The one in front has his eyes closed, mouth open, and every so often he jerks. So does his dick. It’s standing straight fucking up, flushed dark and leaking, and the dude behind him hasn’t even fucking touched it yet. It took Frank all of like ten seconds to figure out the dude in back isn’t a dude at all, he’s the android, and there’s this total kinky electrical play thing that’s going on that Frank can’t even fucking see except for the way the dude in front jumps and shudders and tries desperately to grab at his dick. The bot never lets him get close. The guy looks fucking wrecked.

Flicking a glance at the timestamp, Frank bites his lip. The android’s been teasing this guy for almost fifteen fucking minutes. Frank wants so fucking bad to skip ahead and see if he gets off without a hand on him, but he wants to wait, too. He knows the guy’s gonna lose it. He’s just fucking gotta see what else the bot does to him before that happens.

One of the android’s hands slips out of view between them. The dude’s whole face creases up, his mouth going so wide Frank’s own cock jumps where he’s got a hand curled lightly around it. The bot has got to be fingering him. He chews crazily on his lip and stares so hard at the screen his eyeballs ache. He wants to see. Androids are solid, strong–five minutes ago this one had been holding the guy up against the wall with just a hand on his shoulder–and now Frank knows, he knows exactly what it feels like to have one pressed close. He knows how precisely they move, how fucking smooth and graceful Gerard’s fingers are–

fuck. Frank chokes back a moan as his dick goes from a comfortable semi to rock-fucking hard so fast it hurts. It kinda hurts when he gives it a little rub because he’s already jacked it three fucking times in the last four hours and he’s pretty sure if he goes for another it’s gonna be dry. But he can’t fucking help it. Inside his blanket cocoon stinks like sweat and jizz, but he can still smell Gerard too. It’s probably his laptop about to fucking blow up it’s so overheated, but his dick doesn’t care. He doesn’t care.

Stretching his legs out, he curls around the laptop and sucks in a hissing breath as the guy’s knees give out. The bot catches him fast and hauls him back so hard Frank can practically hear the dude’s shocked grunt at being slammed against the android’s chest even without the sound. While the guy scrabbles for a handhold, the bot grabs his chin, jerks him around, and kisses him. Open-mouthed, with a sweet flash of pink tongue, the android kisses him. Frank yanks on his dick so damn hard it really does fucking hurt, but then it feels good, great, oh god, he’s gonna come again.

When he finally blinks back to reality, his hand covered in spunk and his ears still ringing, all he can think about is what Gerard’s mouth might taste like.

*

Not enough hours later, a sharp rap sounds on Frank’s bedroom door. He grumbles and rolls over, scooting deeper into his tangled nest of blankets. When he catches the unmistakable squeak of the door’s hinges, he whines, “Mom, m’sleepin’.”

“No you’re not,” is the cheerful response, definitely not his mom, and Frank’s eyes fly open. He kicked off his ruined shorts but he didn’t bother to haul on a fresh pair, and his laptop is down by the side of his bed still fucking open, even though he’s pretty sure he closed all the tabs. Really pretty sure. Oh fuck.

Clambering free of the twisted blankets, he gropes for his computer and slams it shut. Hanging halfway off the bed, his bare ass barely covered by a sheet, he looks up, and up, and finds Gerard smiling down at him.

“Hi, Frankie,” Gerard says, crouching down so they’re about eye-level. “I made coffee. Linda said it’s really good.”

“Coffee,” Frank croaks.

Gerard inches closer, easily balanced on the balls of his feet, and Frank has to squeeze his eyes shut. It’s not fucking fair that Gerard can move like that. It’s not fucking fair that Gerard is in his bedroom when Frank’s head is still buzzing with half-remembered dreams. And it’s really not fucking fair that Gerard reaches out to place a gentle, lukewarm hand on his forehead. “Are you sick?”

“No,” Frank says, clearing his throat and repeating it when it comes out a geriatric wheeze. He’s not sure if it’s a monumental display of willpower or a total lack of it that keeps him from jerking away from Gerard’s touch. He sits up, letting Gerard’s hand fall away naturally, and keeps the sheet bundled around his morning wood.”Not sick. Just kinda not awake either.”

“You were up late,” Gerard says.

It doesn’t sound like a question, but Frank says, “Yeah, uh. Yeah,” and fists a hand in the bedclothes where Gerard probably can’t see it. Gerard’s not quite close enough to smell, and definitely not close enough to hear the hum of power as he shifts, sitting down on the floor with one leg tucked under him, and Frank catches himself short of swaying forward to fucking, like, fucking sniff him, or touch him, or do something that he really definitely shouldn’t. His belly is still sorta crusty from last night. Last night, when he fucking got off on remembering his android giving him a good-night hug.

Which, come to think of it, probably isn’t something most bots have in their basic programming. Or maybe it is, and Frank’s been watching way too many of those vids where dudes practically cream themselves over any little touch. He made it all the way upstairs and even got the towels shoved in the linen closet before he had to whip it out or die.

“Your mom told me to keep you out of trouble,” Gerard says, oblivious to the way Frank’s trying not to squirm. He’s totally been watching too many vids, because that sounds like a fucking line to him, and his brain goes bow-chica-chica without like, any input from him at all, and next thing he knows, he’s curled up on his side giggling like a maniac.

Gerard doesn’t say or do anything until they peter out, and then he leans close, squinting. Another round of giggles burble up. Gerard just keeps watching, and waiting, sitting right there next to Frank’s bed with its dirty, stained sheets, and then Frank doesn’t feel much like laughing anymore. He wipes his face on the corner of a sheet. If Gerard thinks it’s weird he just cracked up like that, he doesn’t say. All he says is, “Breakfast,” and gets up, moving off about four feet to give Frank room to roll out of bed.

“I’m, uh, gonna grab a shower first, okay?” Scratching at his tummy gets dried jizz caked all underneath his nails. Gross.

“Okay,” Gerard agrees, and just stands there.

“Meet you downstairs?” Frank tries.

“Okay,” Gerard repeats, just as easily, and fucking finally goes away. Frank waits for the sound of his heavy tread on the stairs before flinging back the covers and bolting for the bathroom. By the time he’s standing under the steaming spray, he’s frantically jerking off again.

*

Summer is for catching up on all the fun shit Frank didn’t get to do during the school year. Mostly, this means video games. He’s way better at reading just one comic before doing his homework, or practising guitar for an hour after dinner, than he is at keeping track of time while conquering the jungles of Peru with Lara Croft’s really fucking stellar 35th Anniversary rack. Which is kinda what he’s trying to do now, except Gerard is standing right behind him, staring, and Frank can’t aim for shit.

“Dude,” Frank says when Lara loses half a foot of braid to a badly-timed roll beneath a pendulum axe. “You’re killing me here.”

“The designer of this game is unfamiliar with female anatomy,” Gerard declares.

“Probably never seen a real pair in his life,” Frank agrees, and sends Lara catapulting across a forty-foot crevice.

“And physics,” Gerard continues.

She misses by critical inches and slams into the edge of the cliff. The game switches to a cut scene that lovingly pans up her bare curvy thighs and round butt–and makes Frank briefly question the origins of this robot thing he’s developed in the last couple years–as she struggles to hoist herself up. Once she’s on her feet, she lifts an eyebrow and gives the chasm a smirk before plunging into the undergrowth, machete glinting.

“Totally not the point,” Frank says smugly.

Gerard looks at him, then the paused game. “What is the point?”

Some of the wind leaks out of Frank’s sails. “Uh, she’s hot? And kicks ass.”

“You mean sexually desirable,” Gerard says. “You want to have sex with her.”

Though the curtains are closed, and the blackouts engaged to block the sun’s heat, it’s still the middle of fucking August and it’s kinda stuffy in here. The back of Frank’s neck feels hot. “Well, yeah,” he says, chopping randomly at some sorta killer plant thing. “I wouldn’t fucking say no, you know? If she offered. Or like, existed.” She could probably kill him with one thumb and a pinky, but he still wouldn’t say no.

“She isn’t real,” Gerard says, and Frank can’t tell if he’s repeating it for confirmation, or adjusting his definition of ‘real’ or what, “but you love her anyway?”

Frank is in a total type of love with Lara Croft. He gets the feeling that’s not what Gerard’s talking about, though. “Not like, not that kinda love, dude. I mean, that Jolie chick from ’01 was pretty cool sometimes, maybe, but uh….” He scratches at the back of his neck. Explaining sex and love to an android isn’t exactly high on Frank’s list of life skills. He’s barely got the whole thing figured out himself. And he seriously doesn’t want to think really deeply about what Gerard knows, because that gets him thinking about who built Gerard, and why, and yeah. “It’s not the same thing, okay?”

Gerard does that split-second blankness thing, then nods. “You’re going to walk into a sand trap again.”

Cursing, Frank yanks his hand off the control pad. Lara stops short like five steps from certain death. “We gotta find something else to do, man. My stats are gonna be shit.”

Gerard frowns a little and says, “But I like watching you.”

Which sounds kinda hot and sexy when Frank hears it in his head, but when Gerard’s actually standing there saying it, it’s more like awkward and vaguely creepy. Gerard doesn’t watch. He stares. He stared at Frank eating toast, he stared at Frank trying to work out that chord that was giving him grief, he stared at Frank unloading the dishwasher and putting all the dishes away and drawing a little smiley face on a post-it and sticking it to the cupboard to cheer his mom up after pulling yet another twelve-hour shift. Gerard can stare like a motherfucker.

“Hey,” Frank says, perking up, “hey, I got an idea.”

*

Frank is a genius. A fucking genius. He doesn’t have a clue what movie is playing, and like hell he even cares. For the first time today, Gerard’s crazy android focus is lasered in on something other than him, and Frank can finally do what he’s been itching to do since Gerard climbed out of the box and started watching every single move Frank made. Now, Frank can watch him.

Gerard doesn’t blink. He doesn’t breathe, and he doesn’t get uncomfortable, so he doesn’t move. He just sits there, face blank, as images play over the screen. The only indication Frank’s got that he’s paying attention at all is the slight shift in his focus every now and then when something nearer the edges of the screen catches his eye. Which is weird, because Frank thought androids’ vision was basically a camera feed, and unlike humans, cameras catch everything. Maybe it’s something more between the two, for realism, a fusion type thing.

Leaning against the arm of the couch, Frank slowly stretches his leg out. Gerard keeps watching the movie. Turning a little more onto his hip, Frank deliberately pokes Gerard’s thigh with his toes. Nothing.

Watching Gerard would be a hell of a lot better if he fucking did something. Frank jabs him with a toe again. He’s not sure what he’s looking for here, maybe Gerard to put a hand on his ankle or something stupidly freshmen-crush like that, but it sure isn’t Gerard’s head turning really creepily slowly to face him. It takes Gerard a couple seconds longer than it should to say, “I can stand.”

“No, dude, c’mon.” Frank sinks deeper into the cushions, keeping one leg tucked under him while letting the other drape over the edge. “It’s cool. There’s room.”

Another beat of silence, then Gerard says, “This movie is weird.”

“Yeah,” Frank says, grinning. “But it’s good.”

Gerard nods once, really quick and short, and turns back to the television. Frank keeps watching him do nothing. Talk about weird.

*

“He was awake late,” says Gerard’s fuzzy voice.

“I hope he’s not sick again,” says Mom’s worried one, and Frank struggles to throw off the blanket of sleep holding him down. It takes him almost a minute to figure out it’s an actual blanket, and that somebody keeps tugging it back up over him whenever he moves. “He never sleeps well when he’s sick.”

“He said he isn’t, and he smells good.”

That’s enough for Frank to finally wrench his eyes open. They don’t focus right away, so all he gets is a blurry glimpse of Gerard at the other end of the couch before his mom’s palm lands on his forehead. “What,” he grunts, batting at her. “What the hell?”

“I said, you smell good,” Gerard says. Mom finally moves her hand, too busy staring at Gerard to bother with trying to take Frank’s pulse or something. “Healthy. If you were sick, I would know.”

Mom says, “That’s-”

“Creepy?” Frank flounders around a bit trying to sit up.

“-useful,” Mom finishes.

“Scent is just a type of information,” Gerard says, and shrugs.

“There’s smelling roses, dude, and then there’s, like,” Frank doesn’t even fucking know. He’s okay with his laptop sniffing out viruses. That makes sense. This totally doesn’t.

“Well, it makes me feel better,” Mom says, pulling off her coat. Now that Frank’s mostly vertical, he can see her purse by the door next to a bag of take out, and also how freaking close Gerard is. Like close enough that Frank’s got his legs flung over Gerard’s lap, and that Gerard was the one making sure the blanket stayed on him. “I could use an early-warning system for you, Frankie.”

“Hilarious,” Frank grumbles. The blanket is way too hot. He’s totally going to kick it off as soon as he’s done figuring out if flopped halfway on top of Gerard is the best or worst thing that’s ever happened to him. He’s a tactile kinda guy, it’s not like it’s he’s never used Ray or Bob as a pillow or a bed or whatever. But Gerard feels different, just a little bit of softness layered over hard metal, and wow, the sleep chub he’s got going on is like two seconds away from full-on boner territory. With his mom right there. He scrambles up, nailing Gerard in the knee, and heaps the blanket all around him until he’s an undistinguishable lump of Frank beneath it.

Mom raises an eyebrow at him. Gerard gives her a short, intense look, then turns an eyebrow of his own on Frank. Even with the wonky hair and the too-bright light in his eyes, it makes him look all suave or some shit, and Frank wouldn’t even fucking know what that word means if he didn’t steal the trashy romance novels his mom hides under her bed.

Great. Just fucking great.

*

The part where Frank jerks off to bot porn every night isn’t new. The part where he does it thinking about Gerard is. And maybe he feels a little like a creep about it, with Gerard puttering around the house carving a space for himself in their lives–which is seriously all kinds of strange, especially the mornings Frank stumbles down to find Mom smiling indulgently across the table at Gerard holding a full mug of strong black coffee while he reverently explains exactly what it is about scent that’s so intriguing–but not enough of one where he’s actually going to stop.

With the way Gerard’s picking up on their habits and stuff, Frank keeps waiting for him to seem more human. That’s the logical way it should go. But everything he does remains perfect and precise, right down to the way he mimics Frank’s lazy sprawl on the couch. Frank can’t help thinking about what that would translate to for, like, other things. He’s never jerked off so much in his life, and that includes when he first figured out his dick could do something way more fun than piss.

It also means he’s doing laundry like every second day. There aren’t enough shorts and sheets in the entire world for this shit.

“Dude,” Frank says as Gerard hands him the bundle of towels and he gets hit in the face with this totally grungy stink, “that is foul. What the fuck is on these?” Even if he missed a couple towels on Tuesday, no way should they be this ripe.

“Shampoo, soap,” Gerard says, “various bodily–”

“Rhetorical question.” Frank stuffs the armful into the washer before the stench latches onto his clothes and slams the lid shut. The machine starts chugging away. It isn’t until he steps away that the smell hits him again and he frowns. He gives his own pits a quick sniff just to make sure. “Dude,” he says, staring at Gerard. “Is that you?”

Curiously, Gerard looks down at himself. “It isn’t anyone else.”

“No, like, wow. You stink.” Frank edges close and takes a cautious whiff. Gerard’s weird plastic smell is buried under a layer of old sweat and spoiled food. “How the fuck is that even possible?”

“I don’t smell,” Gerard says, and if his expression wasn’t his usual calm, passive one, Frank might think he sounded kinda indignant about it, “my clothes do. I took out the garbage for you last night.”

“Oh.” Frank scratches at his neck. He promised Mom he would clean the fridge out like a week ago. If she wasn’t pulling double shifts, she probably would’ve noticed the colony forming on the veggie casserole jammed into the very back of the bottom shelf. Frank was kinda interested to see when the little bacteria dudes would figure out how to make fire at the same time he was totally grossed out by it and hoping it would just go away without him having to salvage the Pyrex. “Yeah, uh, sorry. Thanks, by the way. Now gimme your fucking clothes, I’m gonna wash ‘em.”

Gerard strips off his shirt and holds it out for a whole thirty seconds until Frank dumbly takes it, then he starts tugging at the drawstring on his pants. “Thank you, Frankie.”

His pants.

Frank’s brain sputters, stops, then revs right up again. It shouldn’t be a big deal, because a) he’s seen bare chests before, even boobs, and b) Gerard is a robot, but let’s face it, it’s mostly b that’s the problem here. His dick doesn’t think it’s a fucking problem, though, hell no. His dick thinks the smooth, bare lines of Gerard’s chest are really fucking awesome, and the only thing to make it even more awesome would be more nudity. Which he’s definitely going to get, oh god, Gerard’s pants are down around his ankles.

“Go pick out a t-shirt or something,” Frank says, yanking open the washer and stuffing Gerard’s clothes in. He’s so fucking hard he can’t breathe, what the fuck. “I’m gonna– Yeah, yeah, go, s’okay, go,” he urges when Gerard just stands there.

He can’t slam the door shut fast enough once Gerard’s gone, or get his hand in his pants and finally on his dick. He makes a noise so fucking loud that he’s glad his mom isn’t home, and when he starts to jack it for real he’s gotta hang onto the edge of the counter or he’ll be on his knees. Like all he had to do was think it he’s down on the scratchy bathmat, going at it hard enough he grits his teeth. What the fuck. He didn’t even see anything. Just the easy slope of Gerard’s back, the curve near the top of his ass–

He comes with a grunt and barely manages to catch the spunk before he’s gotta wash another pair of fucking shorts. He sags against the cupboard with it cooling in the palm of his hand for way too long–he can hear Gerard opening and closing drawers in his bedroom, shit–before he manages to climb back to his feet and rinse off his hands. He lost it so fast his cock’s barely sticky, but he gives it a wipe as quickly as he can.

“I like this one,” Gerard says like three seconds after Frank zips his jeans, no fucking joke. Frank swallows hard and turns around, ready to say he doesn’t even know what the hell, maybe something about Gerard fucking knocking before opening closed doors, but then his mouth dries up so fucking fast. His Black Flag shirt is really kinda tight and small on Gerard. And short. Really fucking short, and Gerard’s smooth hips and little bump of a belly and soft cock are right there. His fucking android has a fucking dick.

Which, okay. Frank knew. Or like, he didn’t, but sometimes the ones in the vids do, and he checked out Gerard’s crotch often enough that he figured there had to be something down there. Even when he’d be right in the middle of business, he never let himself consider that Gerard’s would be anatomically correct. It totally is. It’s this gorgeous, soft little slump leaning slightly to the left and Frank wants to get all up on it so bad he’s dizzy.

“Frank?” Gerard asks, his face doing that brow crinkle of concern thing he totally learned from Frank’s mom–oh god, oh god, he’s thinking about his mom while his wet dick’s trying to get up for their android, he is such a sick little shit. “Are you okay? Do I need to take care of you?”

“What?” Frank croaks.

“Your mom said I should take care of you if you need me,” Gerard says, why the fuck is he talking about his mom too, along with the porno dialogue, Jesus Christ, “and you look like– Oh.” He leans forward just a little, enough to make his dick shift, and Frank can’t stop fucking staring. “You were masturbating again. Are you done now?”

“What,” Frank says, though fuck if he actually wants to know, “shut up, fuck, why aren’t you wearing fucking pants?”

“You told me to put on a t-shirt,” Gerard says reasonably.

“Shut up,” Frank repeats, and Gerard says, “There are nicer ways to tell me to be quiet, you know,” and Frank isn’t thinking anymore, like, at all. Gerard is standing there with his stupid junk out and the next thing Frank knows his face is in it. His hands are on Gerard’s hips, holding on so tight he can feel the metal bones beneath the weird, spongy give of Gerard’s skin. The warm plasticky smell of him fills Frank’s nose and mouth. Gerard’s cock is soft against his cheek, and his own gives a feeble twitch. It’s so fucking good.

“Frank,” Gerard says, unnaturally steady, “what are you–”

Please shut up,” Frank tries, “please just let me,” and he presses his face in just to feel how hard Gerard is. But not, like, not his dick. His dick stays soft, even when Frank turns and nuzzles against it, but Gerard makes a strange questioning sort of sound. That’s it. Just that noise, no sudden kick of blood filling out his cock, no sharp smell of arousal. Frank barely even thinks about it before he sticks his tongue out and licks at Gerard’s junk. It tastes synthetic and strange, kinda metallic like electricity, iron-copper tang. Maybe he shouldn’t be able to taste that through Gerard’s skin but it’s still there when he licks again, when he opens his mouth and sucks on the soft head.

“Frank,” Gerard repeats, some of the steadiness gone, voice hitching nothing at all like Frank’s would if somebody stuck his dick in their mouth, but like a computer with too many programs running, hard sharp breaks in the middle of words that pick up right where they left off, “I’m not made to– I can’t do that. I know it looks like I should, but I– It’s not going to, okay, Frank?”

If Frank hadn’t spent the last week jerking off picturing this, and maybe if he wasn’t hard again already, holy fuck, he’d do more than catch the undercurrent of we shouldn’t in what Gerard’s saying. But he has, and he is, and all he’s really registering is the tight grip Gerard has on his shoulders, and even that doesn’t feel right. Gerard’s grip is firm and solid, unchanging even when Frank tongues all over him. Frank can’t get him to shiver with a hard suck, or hold on tighter when he uses the edges of his teeth. All Gerard does is stand there and say, “Frank, I can’t get hard,” like he’s reporting the fucking weather while Frank sucks in air so fast he chokes, hand flying over his dick, his mouth crammed full of Gerard’s soft cock muffling his moan as he comes.

When he can finally fucking breathe again, the first thing he notices is that the crook of Gerard’s thigh where his nose is smushed smells a little less synthetic. The second thing he notices is why. Frank fucking drooled all over him. Like, all over him, his dick shiny-wet, his balls slick. Something hot prickles over Frank’s skin and into his belly. He squeezes his eyes shut. “Shit.”

Gerard’s hand settles lightly on the crown of his head. “I’m sorry, Frankie.”

Frank pushes back, blinking fast. “What?” Sorry?

“I told you I couldn’t.” Gerard looks down at the mess Frank made of him. He strokes the slick crook of his thigh, then his cock, curiously, and that shouldn’t be hot. All he’s doing is touching it, not even pretending to jack it. “The androids in your vids are modified.”

“The–” The vids. “Fuck,” Frank says, “fuck, fuck,” as he shoves up off his knees. “You can’t tell anybody, Gerard. Those vids, they’re not, you can’t– Seriously, you can’t tell anybody, I mean it,” he babbles when Gerard makes a face like he’s going to argue. “I’ll get in so much shit.”

“For masturbating?” Gerard asks doubtfully.

Frank digs the heels of his palms into his eyes. If his mom finds out he’s using their bot as a fucking sex toy, she’s gonna flip. “Just, you can’t, okay?”

“Okay,” Gerard says, not sounding convinced, but what the fuck should he care? He’s a robot. It’s not like his mom can ground him until his eighteenth birthday. “I won’t tell anyone. I just thought you should know.”

“Know what,” Frank snaps.

Gerard says, “That if you touch me,” and pauses for a second, like he’s looking shit up. “You can’t jerk me off. I can’t get hard, and I can’t come. But it’s okay if you want to fuck me.”

Frank can’t fucking even process what the hell is coming out of Gerard’s mouth. It doesn’t make sense. “What?”

“I said it’s okay, we can fuck. If you want to.” Gerard looks down at the mess of spit drying on his cock. “I’m pretty sure you want to. Don’t worry, Frankie,” he says, and smiles, shifting Frank’s whole world a few degrees off-centre. “I’m good at secrets.”

*

“You’d better eat that,” Mom says, pointing her fork sternly at the brownish lumps of tofu on Frank’s plate. “I know it didn’t turn out like in the recipe, but I made it and you’re going to eat it.”

“Sure am,” Frank agrees, and shoves the disgusting watery lumps into his mouth as fast as he can. It’s like penance for putting Gerard’s dick in there first. Which is one fucking thing he needs to not think about right now at all. Thinking about Gerard leads to looking at Gerard, which leads to popping a stiffy at the dinner table. Frank does not fucking want to go there.

Feeling Gerard looking at him, Frank hunches his shoulders and concentrates on not throwing up. His mom is right there.

After dinner she goes to take a bath, leaving them to clean up. Frank moves around Gerard in the tiny kitchen space really, really carefully, sometimes breathing through his mouth so he doesn’t catch an accidental whiff of warm plastic. It’s like Frank’s brain got rewired in the forty-five seconds he had Gerard crammed into his mouth, and one little hint of that smell has Frank’s dick stirring.

Gerard gives him a look like he knows, like maybe he can fucking smell it or something freaky, and calmly stacks plates in the dishwasher.

By the time Frank goes to bed, he’s ready to claw his own face off. He spent the whole evening downstairs trying to watch tv, going from half-hard to fucking aching to half-hard again like some totally sadistic roller-coaster ride. And Gerard just sat there the whole time, not even pretending to do anything but stare straight at Frank’s crotch.

“Sleep good, baby,” Mom calls, claiming Frank’s spot on the couch as he hobbles upstairs, his dick so hard he can’t even stand up right. Gerard’s only a few steps behind him. It’s probably a good thing he can’t fucking think right now or he’d be freaking out so bad.

Inside his room, Gerard shuts the door. For a few terrible seconds it’s really, really awkward, then Gerard asks, “Are you going to jerk off again? Do you want me to take my clothes off?”

“Yes,” Frank blurts. He sits down hard on the edge of his bed and fists up two handfuls of sheets. “I mean, yeah. Please.” He’s pretty proud his voice didn’t even crack there.

It’s a good thing there’s no room in Frank’s head for expectations. If he’d gotten around to hoping for a strip-tease, he’d have been really fucking disappointed in the quick, clinical way Gerard’s clothes come off. The result’s the same either way. Gerard ends up naked, and Frank gets to look. And, oh fuck, touch.

“C’mere,” he says, actually working on getting air in and out of his lungs as Gerard steps out of his pants and walks on over like it’s no big thing. It totally is. They shouldn’t do this. Frank shouldn’t do this, because those vids he watches aren’t exactly mainstream, and a lot of people are really, really against what’s about to happen here. Frank knows all about the reams and reams of articles that go on and on and on about how robots promote the decline of healthy, natural relationships, and objectification and unreal expectations and blah blah blah, always the same shit. And maybe some of it’s true, maybe some of it isn’t, Frank’s gonna call it bullshit anyway. That, and the squirmy lump of guilt in his gut. Bullshit.

“So, uh,” Frank says, carefully lifting his hands to put them on Gerard’s hips again. Gerard lets him, even spreading his legs a little and setting his hands on Frank’s shoulders like he’s giving Frank room to explore. Frank wonders how many of those vids Gerard’s watched. “Guess you’ve known for awhile.”

“You’re horny a lot,” Gerard says, watching Frank’s hands move up over his belly to his chest. “It took me a few days to figure out it had something to do with me.” Biting his lip and giggling a little, Frank skims his thumbs over Gerard’s nipples, not really expecting anything to happen but wanting to touch them all the same. Gerard shocks the shit out of him by saying, “That feels good. You can pinch if you want.”

Frank freezes with his palms pressed tight to Gerard’s nipples. It’s pretty cool. “You can feel that?”

“Of course I can feel that,” Gerard says, giving him a funny look. “Sensory feedback is necessary for me to function.”

“But you said good.” Frank goes back to circling with his fingers, glancing from Gerard’s face to his dick even though he knows Gerard’s not gonna suddenly pop wood. “You said it feels good.” Why the hell would an android need a way to qualify touch?

“I like touching you,” Gerard says, and drops to his knees. Frank pretty much chokes on his tongue. Instead of diving in face-first like Frank’s dick kinda hopes, Gerard pushes his way between Frank’s thighs and loops his arms around Frank’s waist, his cheek pressed to Frank’s chest so they’re as close as they can get without going horizontal. “If you like something, it feels good, doesn’t it?”

“Well, yeah,” Frank says. He’s still seriously turned on, but there’s something going on here that he’s gotta figure out before he goes all lizard-brain mode on Gerard’s junk again. “But you didn’t… in the bathroom, when I blew you, did that, y’know?” He waves a hand. Aside from Gerard’s voice going weird, he didn’t react at all.

“It felt really good,” Gerard confirms with a tiny nod. “But I can’t get hard for you, Frankie, so it doesn’t really have a point.” Before Frank can say tell him that is the point, Gerard looks up. “I could blow you, though. You can even come in my mouth.” He smiles winningly. “I have a filter.”

Frank cracks up. He’s this close to coming, because his bot has a dirty fucking mouth, but he also has a filter.

“I didn’t think it was funny,” Gerard says kinda petulantly. Most of the effect is ruined by how he’s tugging at Frank’s clothes, unbuttoning and untying and being a total ninja while Frank flails. “Obviously it’s not meant for that, but some minor adjustments re-purpose it satisfactorily.” He trails off and jabs Frank in the ribs. “Stop laughing at me, asshole.”

Frank laughs harder. It’s kind of a relief. Laughing his stupid head off isn’t as likely to get his mom to come running wondering what all the weird noises are about. “No, no, I’m sorry,” he says, flinching away from another jab, “I’m sorry, okay? Did you just fucking call me an asshole?”

“I’m naked and you’re laughing at me,” Gerard says, giving him a prim look. “It seemed appropriate.”

“It was a little funny.” Because he can, Frank pushes his hands into Gerard’s hair and tips his face up. Even Gerard’s hair doesn’t feel right. It’s thicker, softer, than it should be, but stays crumpled from Frank’s grip until he smooths it out. Gerard’s lips part a little like he knows exactly where this is going, and Frank’s so not laughing anymore. “You know what kissing is, right?”

Gerard nods, then pauses. “Do you want me to put my tongue in your mouth, or your tongue in mine?”

Grinning, his stomach swooping, Frank sticks his arms up so Gerard can yank off his shirt and says, “Let’s just go for it and see what happens.”

“Okay,” Gerard says, flashes Frank a grin of his own, and then he surges up and his mouth is on Frank’s before Frank can fucking blink. Where he didn’t go face-first for it a few minutes ago, he sure as hell does now. Both his hands are on Frank’s cheeks holding him still, lukewarm and dry while Frank’s are hot and sweaty tangled in his hair, and he’s sucking hard on Frank’s bottom lip like maybe he spent a lot of time thinking about what he’d like to do if he ever got to kiss somebody. Frank groans and opens his mouth, so fucking ready to turn this dirty and sloppy right off the bat, but when Gerard follows his lead, pushes into Frank’s mouth with his tongue, Frank breaks off with a startled noise.

“What?” Gerard asks, staring up at him. “Did I do it wrong?”

Frank says, “No, just,” and touches the corner of Gerard’s mouth with a thumb. He traces along Gerard’s lips, rubbing away the slickness of his own spit, then presses a little to get Gerard to open up. “Uh. Lick?”

Still looking straight at him, Gerard licks the pad of his thumb. As fucking hot as that is, all Frank can really pay attention to is how it’s kinda damp at first, then isn’t. Gerard licks again, either ’cause he wants to or because Frank didn’t tell him to stop or whatever. His tongue isn’t wet at all. It’s soft, smooth when Frank presses against it, but totally fucking dry.

“Shit,” Frank says.

“What?” Gerard’s voice comes out clear even though he’s got his mouth wrapped halfway around Frank’s thumb.

Frank kisses him. Or, like, tries to kiss him, if prying open his mouth and shoving straight in there counts as a kiss. It tastes as weird as it feels, like making out with a doll, except for how Gerard pushes back. And back, leaning up on his knees, hands on Frank’s shoulders to lay him out flat and crawl up over him so smoothly there’s no way any human could pull it off. It’s so hot Frank blanks out for a second, and when his brain comes back online Gerard’s straddling his lap still kissing him, but Frank’s clothes are pretty much gone, shorts hanging off one ankle, and Gerard’s got his soft junk nestled right up against Frank’s hard, messy dick. Grabbing onto Gerard’s hips, Frank fucking goes for it. Just ruts, panting into Gerard’s mouth, scrabbling for a tighter hold on him when he shifts, and ending up with two handfuls of his seriously amazing ass.

“You’re going to come,” Gerard tells him, lips wet from Frank’s tongue.

Frank gasps, grunts, and can’t fucking believe this is happening. Gerard feels incredible. He’s got some give when Frank pushes hard, but not much at all when Frank pushes harder. And his dick, god, his soft smooth dick rubbing up against Frank’s is fucking crazy good. All the mess between them is his. His spit, his sweat, his precome smeared all over Gerard’s belly. Fuck, between his legs, too, because Gerard’s pushing up, shoving back, getting Frank’s dick trapped right in there where it’s smooth and dark and dry, making a mess out of that, too.

Gritting his teeth, Frank says, “I’m gonna fuckin’– fuck,” glimpses the bright, eager light in Gerard’s eyes, and comes so hard he’s gotta slap a hand over his own mouth so he doesn’t bring the fucking roof down with the racket he’s making.

Frank,” Gerard says, almost too soft for Frank to catch over the noise in his head. While Frank struggles to breathe through the aftershocks, Gerard pushes his hand aside to touch his cheek, then his open mouth. “That was amazing. I want to see that again.”

“Fuck,” Frank wheezes. Eyes still shut, he pushes his face into Gerard’s palm. It’s warm and soft, only a little slick from the sweat picked up from Frank’s own skin. He says, “Fuck,” again, muffled, then, “Motherfucker, oh my god,” ’cause it just isn’t enough.

When Gerard’s weight shifts, he finally peels open his eyes. He can’t believe how good that was, and they barely even did anything. He sluggishly turns his head to tell Gerard, voice sticking as he watches Gerard roll onto his back on the bed, that weird blankness back on his face as he touches his own body. Frank tracks his hand down his chest, over his slick belly and past the soft slump of his junk to push between his legs. Sucking in a hissing breath, Frank shoves up on his elbow and blinks the sting of sweat out of his eyes so he can see Gerard dragging his fingers through the come smeared all over him.

Shiny-wet fingertips rubbing together, Gerard looks up and says, “This is great.”

“Yeah?” Frank croaks.

“I still want to blow you,” Gerard says, all matter-of-fact, “but I want you to pull out before you come. You can do that, right, Frankie? It happens in your vids all the time. You can pull out and come on my face.” Pushing up so they’re level, Gerard gestures with his messy fingers, like there’s any way to fucking miss that he’s pretty much playing with Frank’s jizz. “I want you to make a mess on me again.”

Every drop of blood Frank’s got rushes south so fast he almost blacks out. His dick doesn’t just twitch, it fucking kicks, filling out while it’s still sensitive, and that actually kinda hurts in this really wickedly good way. Frank gasps and like, fucking launches himself at Gerard. The force of it would knock anybody else flat, but Gerard easily takes his weight and settles smoothly on his back while Frank scrambles to touch him anywhere and everywhere at once. Gerard grabs onto his ass, the hard bite of his grip enough to get Frank grinding mindlessly against him even before he hitches his legs up so Frank’s nestled nice and snug between them.

Frank freezes, panting. He looks down and says, “Oh fuck.”

Gerard wiggles a bit like he’s making sure they’ve got the best, like, junk-to-junk contact ratio, and beams up at him. “I saw this in your vids, too,” he says, fingertips stuttering a little as they go from wet to dry to wet again as he drags them over the cheek of Frank’s ass and up between the cheeks. “Does it feel good?”

Frank nods fast, hips kicking as Gerard’s smooth, careful strokes find his asshole. “There?” Gerard asks, stroking harder, and Frank whines. He doesn’t know what to fucking do. He wants to come again so bad already, but he wants Gerard to keep touching him, keep exploring. There’s a hell of a lot of stuff that goes on in those vids. If Gerard’s seen them all, if he’s paid attention to the scenes Frank skips back to watch again and again–

“I want to touch inside you,” Gerard says, and he’s still so fucking calm about it that Frank wants to scream. He’s going crazy here, about to crawl out of his own skin. That Gerard’s so with it, cool and in control, is so much worse and so, so much better than he thought it would be. “Can I, Frank? You’re so soft on the outside, I want to know what it’s like.”

“Gimme your hand,” Frank says, making a clumsy grab for it. Gerard puts his wrist obediently in Frank’s unsteady grip, watching and cataloguing, learning, as Frank ducks his head to suck Gerard’s fingers wet. They taste like his own sweat at first, and his body, thick and sharp. Slowly, that fades to the taste of warm plastic and Frank sucks harder.

“Oh,” Gerard says. His fingers twitch, then press against Frank’s tongue. “That’s what it’s like.”

Frank says, “Nah,” slightly garbled with Gerard’s fingers still halfway in his mouth, “nah, it’s like, kinda? But really, really not.” Gerard’s looking at his hand again, rubbing his thumb over one wet finger again and again. Weirdly, seeing how totally fascinated with it he is calms some of the crazy impulses attacking Frank’s brain. Frank knees it up higher on the bed, stomach swooping. “C’mon. Go for it.”

Instead of reaching around, Gerard goes under, pushing up between Frank’s spread thighs, Frank’s balls resting heavily on his arm. “Oh,” Gerard says again, softly, and pulls his hand back to cup those instead of going for the gold. “They feel different.”

Before Frank can say anything, the expression of wonder falls flat off Gerard’s face. Frank stares, heart giving three hard thumps. On four, Gerard breaks out in a wide grin. “You’re going to come again.”

Frank thumps the side of his fist down on Gerard’s chest. “Yeah, if you’d fucking do something already.”

“I want to see your face this time,” Gerard says, totally cool with Frank using him as a punching bag to keep from losing his shit, “I want to feel you come,” and his fingers are back, pressing hard, harder.

Frank ends up gnawing frantically on the inside of his cheek trying to keep quiet. The one time he did this, he took it slow, excited but nervous. And it felt good, yeah, duh, but not as good as jerking off. Gerard’s going slow, too, but not like Frank–Gerard’s being deliberate, thorough, pressing against his insides, softly stroking as deep as he can go so Frank’s breath hitches, and then sliding out, in again, a steady slow push. All of a sudden, Frank can’t fucking breathe. Gerard’s fucking him.

“Oh my god,” Frank says raggedly, and hunches forward, chin tucked low, trying to curl in on himself. It’s not enough, so he ends up doing this weird sort of controlled fall thing onto Gerard, clutching at Gerard’s shoulders and hiding his burning face against Gerard’s chest. Without any input from him at all, his body tries to move with Gerard’s steady rhythm, but it’s clumsy and awkward and he wants this, he really fucking does, but what the fuck.

“Is it okay?” Gerard asks, his free hand stroking Frank’s back, making Frank nod and whimper and seriously, what the fucking fuck, it’s just fingers. And Frank can’t be loud, not now, his mom is downstairs, or fuck, fuck, it’s getting late, soon she’s gonna be upstairs and she’ll probably want to say goodnight and she can’t find him like this, going to fucking pieces with their android up his ass. “This is so good, Frank. I can smell you. I can feel it.”

“Feel what?” Frank pants out. His lips brush Gerard’s cool skin and he turns his head, mouths at it. Biting down doesn’t make Gerard miss a beat, but Gerard makes a sound of appreciation, and that’s good enough.

“When you like it. When I get close to here,” Gerard says, and crooks his fingers, rubs slow and hard and firm over the spot that makes Frank’s whole body thrash. Gerard’s arm clamps hard around his ribs, holding him down, and Frank lets out a groan so loud his whole body flashes hot then cold, head snapping up to stare at the door. She might’ve heard. Oh fuck, what if she hears?

“Yes,” Gerard says, enough of a hiss to it that Frank’s head snaps back. Frank blinks down at him, says, “What?” and Gerard bites his lip, like, fucking bites his own goddamn lip and it’s so hot, hotter still when Gerard strokes his prostate again and both their mouths fall open in tandem, Frank’s so genuine it hurts and Gerard’s an eager mimicry. Frank shoves back desperately. He can’t take it anymore, he’s got to come, Gerard needs to touch him like that again, he needs to come.

“I,” Gerard says, and cuts off so suddenly it shatters the human illusion. His eyes are burning bright, lit from within, focused on nothing. His hold goes from easy and effortless to a solid iron band pinning Frank against him, the smooth, natural crook of his fingers goes stiff, unyielding. “I want to fuck you,” he says, his eyes finally flickering, searching Frank’s face. “I want to,” he repeats, like he means it, like he’s been saying it all along but just now he’s figured out what it really means to want, “Tell me I can?”

“Please,” Frank groans, shifting fitfully in Gerard’s hold. Having Gerard’s fingers inside him but not moving is fucking torture; he’s so close, so fucking close. “You’re already doing it, please, why’d you stop, why’d you stop–” Frank chokes on air as everything shifts sideways. He hits the mattress with a dull thump, rolling from his side to his belly in an attempt to push up but Gerard’s already there, shoving at one of his knees and spreading him open. He sucks in a quick breath and twists around. Gerard’s kneeling between his legs, hair crazy and body pale, not even a mark on him from where Frank bit and grabbed and dug in.

Gerard looks up, his eyes unnaturally bright, but there’s something different in them. Something Frank’s really fucking sure should never be in a robot’s eyes, but there it is. It makes Frank’s heart shudder, caught up against his ribs. Time stretches like taffy then snaps back to slap Frank in the face as Gerard grabs his hips, tilts them up, and shoves his fingers back in quick and easy.

Frank’s fucking spine bows. He shoves his face in the crooked pillows to muffle his sharp groan and stays there, clogging his lungs with used air.

“That’s how I would do it,” Gerard says, shifting so his body presses close against Frank’s side, one leg flung over Frank’s. Frank nods for no reason at all. Gerard’s close, so close he should be able to feel breath on his neck, but Gerard doesn’t fucking breathe. “If I could fuck you right now, I’d have to do it like that, behind you.” Groaning, Frank shoves his face harder into the pillow. He’s being too loud. Way too fucking loud, and Gerard’s not stopping. Just a hand on his dick, not even a tug or anything, just fucking holding it would make Frank lose it right now. “If I could see your face I’d never last long enough to make you come with me inside you, and I want to make you come.”

“Gonna,” Frank heaves, tearing the pillow aside and gulping air. “Shit, shit, shit, I’m gonna,” and Gerard butts in, scooting closer, hissing, “Yeah, yes, do it,” kinda broken-sounding. Frank scrabbles at his face, trying to yank him close enough to kiss. His sweat is salt-sharp on his lips and wants Gerard’s weird fake taste instead, but he misses, mashes his lips and nose against Gerard’s cheek and comes like that. He rides it out, jerking when Gerard’s fingers move inside him, slip free. Usually he doesn’t notice shit when he’s in the middle of blowing it, but fuck, fuck, he feels that. And when Gerard comes back, touching softly like he wants to press back in, Frank doesn’t miss that either. It’s pretty clear Gerard doesn’t want to stop. Gerard wouldn’t ever have to stop, if Frank didn’t want him to.

“You smell so good,” Gerard whispers. There’s enough space between them Frank can see him draw in air, which is really fucking weird after a week of watching Gerard not breathe. Like, talking-horse kinda weird, where one thing is normal and the other thing is normal but there’s no way the two of them should be happening in that combination. “And you look so amazing when you come. How do you do that?”

Frank snorts, giggles a little at it, and chokes on another snort when he tries to tell himself to calm the fuck down. He’s post-orgasmic floaty and Gerard’s still touching him, all these gentle-slow caresses that make him feel warm way down deep and kinda buzzed from all the amazing sex, holy fuck, sex, and Gerard wants to know why he looks all stupid and overwhelmed when everybody looks stupid and overwhelmed when they lose it. He slaps a hand over his eyes and bites his lip. “You fucked me.”

Between his legs, Gerard’s hand stills. “Technically, yes, but–”

“You fucked me,” Frank says, getting a sweet, squirmy thrill out of it. “So what if it isn’t like, that you’re not, like, modified for it.” With how big Gerard’s fingers felt, Frank’s not sure he wants to go bigger, and Gerard can’t anyway, even if it would be really cool to watch him experience it. He’s way more expressive than any bot Frank’s seen in a vid. It’s totally hot. So whatever. Frank’s into the fingering thing. Fingers are great. “We can be total delinquents and stick other things in places they’re not supposed to go.”

Gerard does his blank-face processing thing for a second. Probably researching ideas right then and there, holy shit. “We can,” he says, blinking back in. “You like my tongue. There’s a lot more I could do with that.”

“Yeah, like,” Frank starts, then he hears, “Frankie?” from the hallway and he shoots straight off the bed and slams into the door when it gives that telltale creak right before it swings open. “Mom! Mom! I’m naked!”

The pressure against the door vanishes. “Sorry, honey. You were so quiet I thought you’d gone to sleep already.”

“I’m about to!” Yeah, right. About to have a fucking heart attack. Gerard’s sitting placidly in a tangled nest of sheets with Frank’s spunk all over him like it’s no big deal. “I mean, I was in bed.”

“Okay,” his mom says easily. “Don’t forget to send Gerard downstairs to recharge overnight. His battery was critical yesterday when I got up.”

Frank throws Gerard a suspicious glance. Gerard blinks at him. He rolls his eyes and says, “Sure. No problem. Sleep good, Mom. Love you.”

“Love you too, honey,” she says. Frank sags against the door in relief at the scuff of her slippers on the carpet as she heads into her room.

“I didn’t forget to recharge,” Gerard says as soon as Frank turns around. His focus is somewhere way, way south of Frank’s face, but he keeps talking like he’s not blatantly sizing up Frank’s junk. “I was busy.”

Frank folds his hands on the door behind him and leans back against it, like that’ll keep Mom out, and gives Gerard something to look at. Though he could do without the whole near-parental disaster thing, he likes the way it feels to be watched and wanted like that. “Busy doing what?”

“Listening to you get off,” Gerard says. “I think you were doing it in your sleep.”

Frank groans and lets his head thunk into the door.

*

Over the horrified screams of zombie victims and the constant beep signalling an incoming call, Gerard asks, “Are you going to answer that?”

Frank makes some sort of noise in response. He’s totally not. Even better than being stretched out on the couch like a lazy slob in the middle of an August heatwave is being stretched out on top of Gerard. Gerard is perfect. He doesn’t bitch Frank out for making his leg go to sleep, he doesn’t need to get up to pee or get a drink or something, and he doesn’t care that Frank’s spent the last fifteen minutes playing with his fingers.

Frank really likes Gerard’s fingers. Aside from the whole live-action porn thing yesterday–the one that Frank keeps flashing back on when he moves a certain way, or when Gerard looks up at him through his messy hair, or when Frank, y’know, breathes–they’re just super great, and Frank loves them. They look exactly like his fingers, knuckles and nails and all that jazz, but when he touches them, they’re totally different. He can’t stop stroking them. He wants to put them in his mouth. Come to think of it, he doesn’t know why he hasn’t already.

He flicks a glance up at Gerard. Satisfied that Frank’s just ignoring the phone instead of not hearing it or something, he’s gone back to watching the movie. Frank’s pretty sure they’ve seen this one already, but whatever. Zombies are always relevant. Either way, Gerard’s engrossed in cinematic mayhem, and he doesn’t react at all as Frank hikes his hand up close to his mouth. Spreading them out and breathing on them doesn’t net him so much as a twitch. Licking them, though, that prompts a startled, breathy noise, and that more than the taste of Gerard’s fake skin gets Frank really going.

“What the hell was that?” Frank asks, twisting around to look closer at Gerard.

“You licked me,” Gerard says, still watching the screen. “I didn’t expect it.”

“But you made a noise.”

“You make noises when I lick you.”

“Yeah, because I–” Because I’m human. Which is totally fact. He’s a human, and Gerard’s a robot. Hearing it like that, though, makes it sound like Gerard’s something less, and that doesn’t settle well in Frank’s stomach. Why shouldn’t Gerard make surprised noises when he’s surprised? Androids aren’t omniscient or some shit like that, of course there’s crap they’re not expecting. There’s a voice in Frank’s head telling him not expecting isn’t exactly the same thing as surprised. He tells it to shut the fuck up.

Gerard’s finally turned away from the screen to look at him. He’s got an eyebrow hiked up in what’s turning out to be his very favourite expression.

“You shut up, too,” Frank mutters, and bites his fingertip.

Gerard watches him for a second, then his mouth curves in a slow, spreading smile. It’s totally hot. “Do you want to fuck again?”

It’s totally evil. Frank sucks in air so fast he almost chokes.

“I do,” Gerard says, calmly turning his hand around to grasp Frank’s. “I’ve been thinking about your mouth.”

Frank says, “Holy shit, really?”

Gerard nods, totally earnest. “I really like it when you kiss me. Your mouth is wet and soft and hot inside. I really like how that feels. It’s good. Sort of like fingering you, but different.” He pauses, waiting for Frank to nod, like this is a normal conversation and he isn’t fucking dirty talking Frank right in the middle of the living room. “I want you to kiss me everywhere. I can kiss you first if you want, though. Or blow you. I still want to do that, too.”

It’s seriously only like two in the afternoon, the sun’s bright and hot through the wide-open windows, and they’re still in the middle of the fucking living room. Frank hears himself say, “Okay,” anyway. Like he even has a choice when Gerard’s looking at him all hopeful and sweet and really fucking dirty. Where the fuck did Gerard learn this shit.

“Start here,” Gerard says, and whips off his shirt. Frank stares. “Right here,” he prompts, tapping his chest beside a nipple. “They’re an erogenous zone.”

Frank pushes up on his knees, braced against the back of the couch. Gerard makes a happy noise and sinks lower, his leg sliding between Frank’s knees. “For real? Like, on you?”

“I think so,” Gerard says, tucking his arms behind his head so he’s all stretched out, long and pale and perfect. Frank’s gonna choke on his fucking tongue. “I don’t have nerve clusters like you do, but various degrees of recalibration occur when you touch me.”

Holy shit. “Like this?” Carefully, Frank sweeps his fingers up from Gerard’s belly to his chest, circling in a little so his thumb grazes Gerard’s nipple. Frank’s not too het up about fooling around with his own nipples, but he does like the feel of Gerard’s against his fingertips and then his palm, and it really is seriously very cool watching Gerard’s expression go from calm to attentive to fucking excited.

“Yes!” Gerard says, all eager and happy, making Frank chuckle and come back around again, circling in tighter. Seriously cool. The only thing cooler is when Frank leans closer, giving Gerard lots of time to appreciate his mouth getting in on the fun, and Gerard whispers, “Yes, please, Frank,” in a hitching rush. He arches up into it as Frank closes his mouth over a nipple, his hand slow and lazy on the other, and Frank hesitates for a second or two, trying to figure out what to do now. He tries sucking a little, which is kinda hot with the way it draws Gerard’s skin into his mouth, and using his teeth, and then a little of both. He expects Gerard to tell him in that simple, matter-of-fact way he has what’s good and what’s better, but Gerard stays weirdly quiet. The only feedback Frank gets is how hard Gerard pushes into him, and that’s hot in a whole different way. Frank likes it best when he’s got his mouth full, so he uses his hand to squeeze Gerard’s simulated skin into a tight mound and opens his mouth wide, sucking hard. Gerard shakes once, really suddenly, and makes a short, sharp noise.

“This is so fucking cool,” Frank says, lifting his head to glance up. Gerard’s mouth is open and his eyes are blank, staring straight at the ceiling. “Gee?”

Gerard blinks and looks down. “You stopped.”

“So, uh, so did you,” Frank says, backing off a bit more. There are tiny dents in Gerard’s skin from his teeth, surrounded by the wet glisten of his spit. It looks really fucking good. “Did it go wrong?”

“No!” Gerard says, then, “No, it was good. It was great, Frankie.” He stops and makes a face like he’s processing shit again. “It was a lot. I haven’t felt that much before.”

“Yeah?” Carefully, Frank fans his fingers over Gerard’s chest, close to his damp nipple but not touching again, not yet. “You looked weird. Like,” he waves a hand in front of his face, “like checked-out kinda weird.”

Gerard screws his nose up in this totally adorable way that he absolutely had to learn from a cartoon or something, it’s that fucking cute. “Sorry.”

“Dude, don’t be sorry. Just, like.” Frank chews on the corner of his lip. “Tell me where else you want me to put my mouth.”

“Everywhere,” Gerard says. “Anywhere you want.” He grabs at Frank’s hand to push it back where he wants it, curling his fingers around Frank’s until Frank’s got a tight handful of his plastic flesh, nipple trapped between his fingers. “Bite me, please?”

How Gerard just busts out with that shit is so fucking weird. And hot, holy fuck, Frank doesn’t even know what to do with how hot it is. Except to do exactly what Gerard wants him to.

And if that isn’t the trippiest mindfuck ever, he thinks, giving Gerard’s nipple one last little lick before he angles south, scraping his teeth over where Gerard’s ribs should be, if he has any. It’s hard to tell what Gerard’s insides are shaped like. Frank presses his face into Gerard’s belly, kisses slow and experimental, nips and licks and sucks and Gerard finally starts telling him what’s good, what’s better, what Frank should do again and again and again. By the time Frank makes it to the waistband of Gerard’s borrowed sweatpants, he’s feeling pretty smooth. Confident.

Until he stops to think about what’s under those sweatpants. Then he can’t get his hands in them fast enough, tugging them out of the way and pulling Gerard’s junk out way more roughly than he probably should. He wants to put his mouth there.

Like Gerard’s wired straight into Frank’s brain, he says, “Okay. If you want. But–”

“You can’t get hard,” Frank groans, “I know, god, I know,” and goes for it. He’s gonna be totally honest here, at least in his own head–he’s a freak. An absolutely freak. The memory of stuffing his mouth full of Gerard’s soft dick is enough to put him in serious danger of coming. Doing it again is worse. Better. His jaw is stretched so wide it aches, because while Gerard might not be a grower, he is a total shower, and Frank doesn’t want to accidentally calibrate him for like, extreme masochism or something by biting his junk off because he’s too busy humping the fucking couch to concentrate. He pushes down harder, making sure he’s got as much as he can take, and hears himself moan. He’s so into this it’s crazy.

Belatedly, he remembers that somebody is actually attached to the dick in his mouth. He glances up to check in, hoping this is at least a little fun for Gee this time around. Gerard’s halfway to his blank thing again, but like he registers Frank looking at him, he looks down. Whatever he sees on Frank’s face, it makes him groan.

He groans.

Holy fuck, Frank thinks, with a hell of a lot of feeling, and blows it right in his shorts. It happens so fast it barely even feels good, except for how it feels fucking great. By the time he’s got his breath back, the ringing in his ears still hasn’t stopped.

“Frank,” Gerard says, pushing at him, “Frank. Frank?”

Fuck, Frank hopes he didn’t bite. He gropes clumsily for Gerard’s cock, cradling it in his palm and gently running his thumb over the smooth surface. His head is still fucking ringing. It’s like, fucking melodic.

“Shit,” Frank says, pushing up. It’s the fucking doorbell. “What the fuck?”

“I’ll get it!” Gerard calls happily, smoothly extracting himself from the tangle of couch and Frank, and already halfway to the door before Frank can tell him to pull up his fucking pants. Gerard seems to notice, thank fuck, and hitches them up one hip before he pulls the door open. “Hello! Who are you?”

“Uh,” says whoever’s on the other side. Frank scrambles up, wincing at the mess in his clothes. He hopes it doesn’t show. “Is Frank home?”

“Yes,” Gerard says, just as happily. “I’m Gerard.”

“Hi, Gerard,” says Ray, hiking up an eyebrow as soon as Frank’s in sight. “Dude. You’re alive.”

“Fuck yeah, I’m alive,” Frank says, stepping around Gerard to carefully navigate Ray’s usual high-five half-hug greeting thing without endangering what’s left of his dignity. At least Gerard doesn’t look like he spent the last twenty minutes as a chew toy. “This is, uh. Y’know how I said we were gonna get a bot?”

“Yeah,” Ray says, then turns on Gerard with wide eyes. “Wow? This is it? Dude.”

Frank grins. “I know, right?”

“So this is what you’ve been up to all week,” Ray says, stepping inside as Gerard moves back to let him. Frank has a really awesome internal freakout that results in him desperately checking out his crotch to see if he’s leaking jizz. “How’s his learning module going?”

“I have three,” Gerard promptly replies. “I learn quickly.”

“I’ll say,” Frank mutters. He’s not gonna get that noise Gerard made out of his head, ever. What he’s gotta do, though, is get this mess out of his fucking shorts. “You wanna hang for a while, check him out? I was just gonna grab a shower.”

“Cool,” Ray says. “I’m starving.”

“You’re always fucking starving, man,” Frank grouses, and points him at the kitchen. “Go. Eat. Whatever.”

Gerard steps closer from where he’d been hanging back watching. “I can make sandwiches.”

“Yes, sandwiches,” Ray says, and pumps a fist in the air. He nearly bangs it off the moulding on his way into the kitchen. As usual, he doesn’t really notice. Fucking giant motherfucker.

“Okay,” Frank says, grabbing onto Gerard to march him over to the foot of the stairs. “Don’t, like. You know you can’t say anything, right? About, y’know.” His face is going to melt, fucking seriously. He gestures at his crotch. “You know.”

Gerard nods, not looking one bit happy about it. “I understand why you don’t think I should.”

Considering they haven’t discussed this at all, that’s kinda impressive. Then again, Gerard’s got access to the same information Frank does. “She would freak,” Frank says. “Genuine bonafide freak.” And probably seriously reconsider her decision to make the Gerard situation work. She’s been pretty happy with him so far, but he doesn’t doubt for a second she’ll treat him like any other finicky appliance.

They haven’t talked about where Gerard came from, either. Or why.

Fuck.

“Just, I’m sorry,” Frank says. He’s so fucking sorry. He didn’t want to think about any of this shit. “I’ll be back in like five minutes. Don’t fuck it up?”

“I haven’t yet,” Gerard says, totally pointed. And yeah, there’s another thought Frank didn’t want to have.

*

Once Frank finishes the mini freakout he has in the middle of the quickest shower in the history of man and hightails it back down the stairs, he finds Ray inhaling a small army of sandwiches.

“These are amazing,” Ray tells Gerard, reverently demolishing another one. Frank zips in there all ninja-smooth to snag one for himself, grinning at Gerard before he digs in. There’s some sort of thick, cream cheese spread on them, anchoring tons of crispy veggies. Ray doesn’t even bitch, and Ray always bitches about people stealing his food, even when it wasn’t his food to begin with.

“Frank likes vegetables,” Gerard says, hip cocked against the counter as he leans back, wiping his hands on a towel. “They’re good for him, but he really should take protein supplements.”

“I’m right fucking here,” Frank grouses.

Gerard looks at him seriously and says, “You should take protein supplements, Frank.”

A spray of sandwich goes all over the table as Ray cracks up. He says, “Sorry, sorry,” brushing at them ineffectually with a hand. Gerard comes over with the towel to wipe them up. “That was awesome,” Ray tells him.

“Thank you,” Gerard says, shooting Frank a tiny grin.

“So hey,” Ray says, and crams another sandwich half into his mouth. He chews fast, waving a hand like he still wants their attention, and swallows with a gulp. “You like music, Gerard?”

“Yeah,” Gerard says, and this time the grin he shoots Frank is huge, delighted. “Shit yeah, I do.”

If Ray thinks it’s weird for a bot to toss around mild cuss words, it doesn’t show on his face. All he does is grin right back, grab what’s left of a sandwich, and charge upstairs shouting over his shoulder about some band out of Philly using modified synths wired straight through their bots, and something about if Gerard can do this thing with voice harmonics.

Frank’s not really listening. He’s busy thinking about kissing Gerard’s smile.

“I like him,” Gerard says.

“Yeah,” Frank says, dazed, “yeah, me too.”

*

Hunched over a bowl of oatmeal, spoon halfway to his mouth, Frank says, “We what?”

“We’re going out!” Gerard announces. Or re-announces, whatever. He’s clutching a cup of coffee as if he needs it to function when in fact it’s actually Frank who needs that shit right the hell now. He makes grabby hands. Gerard hesitates, clearly calculating the likelihood of Frank passing out in his breakfast during the thirty seconds it would take him to pour another cup.

Frank whines dramatically and makes another weak grab.

“Jeez, alright,” Gerard says, rolling his eyes. He drags a chair over flush to Frank’s and plunks his ass in it, then finally hands over the delicious life-giving coffee. Frank shoves his face in the mug and gulps.

“Anyway,” Gerard says haughtily, after Frank gives him a permissive wave, “Linda gave us a to-do list. If we’re going to get it all done by this afternoon, we need to leave in seven minutes.”

Frank comes up sputtering for air. “I just got up!”

“I tried waking you up earlier,” Gerard says, and shrugs. “You told me to fuck off.”

Frank grumbles, “Did not,” and shoves away from the table. Ever since Gerard showed up, he’s been kind of a shit about getting stuff done around the house. He was kind of a shit anyway, even though he didn’t mean to be. Definitely time to earn some brownie points.

Trudging upstairs, only half listening to Gerard mapping out their route around town, Frank digs up some fresh clothes between gulps of coffee. He strips out of his pyjamas, no big deal, while Gerard prattles on. Gerard’s seen him plenty naked already.

Except when he pokes his head through the neckhole of his t-shirt and shakes hair out of his face, Gerard’s staring. He glances down, checking if he put his shorts on backwards. “What?”

“I like it when you’re naked,” Gerard says, easy-peasy.

Frank grins, flushing a bit. “I, uh, figured.”

“I think I want you to stay naked all day,” Gerard says. He rubs his chin, blinks a couple times, and nods. “Yeah. I do. Then I could touch you whenever we wanted. Hurry up, the bus comes in four minutes.”

“Shit.” Frank gives himself a shake, grabs some jeans and hops into them, then shoves his feet into his sneakers. “You can’t just say shit like that.”

Trailing along behind him as he dashes for his keys and the money on the counter, Gerard says, “Yes I can. I just did.” He pauses in the hallway. “When you told me to fuck off this morning, you were hard and I wanted to blow you. See? I can say it. Why would you say I can’t say it when I just said it?”

Frank wastes a few precious seconds banging his forehead off the open front door. Gerard gives him a funny look, like maybe Gerard’s trying to figure out if that was an explanation of some sort–it totally kinda was–but then he shrugs, grabs Frank’s hand, and pulls him outside.

“One minute, thirty seconds,” Gerard informs him.

Shit.” Frank runs.

*

Hopping off the bus at the corner of 5th and Hazelwood downtown, Frank takes a minute to look around. Everything is pretty much the same as it was the last time he made the trip from the suburbs, before the Gerard thing, shops busy with summer guests and kids off school. It’s totally not weird to take a bot out shopping. There were at least four of them on the bus, sitting rigid and swaying slightly with the start-stop-start rhythm as they made their way downtown, and one didn’t even have an owner with it.

Still, he can’t help staring a little too long at the passers-by glancing their way. Dressed in jeans and a hoodie and an old pair of flip-flops of Frank’s (the only pair of shoes they had even come close to fitting him, and his toes are still hanging off the edges) he doesn’t look much like any bot Frank’s ever seen out here. He doesn’t really look like anybody Frank’s ever seen anywhere, with his pretty face and messy hair and borrowed clothes.

“Maybe you should’ve put your white stuff back on,” Frank says, watching some kid by the corner store vending machines watch them. He jerks his chin up, part hey-kid, part fuck-you. The kid flips him off with a grin and ducks inside.

“I like these better,” Gerard says.

“Yeah, but.” Gerard’s different. Frank doesn’t know how he ended up that way, or why, but he is. At home, it had been pretty easy to deal with. Or, like, ignore, in that way where ignoring meant fucking making out with him. Now they’re out in public, where anybody and everybody can see them, and Frank’s got an uneasy churn in his gut. What if somebody notices that Gerard’s kinda off for a bot? What if somebody knows something, and tells somebody else? Gerard’s fucking black-market goods, Frank’s sure of it. There could be, like, a police bulletin out on him or something, and if they find him, they’ll take him back.

“Frankie?” Gerard asks, forehead all crinkled up. “Are you okay?”

Frank croaks, “No,” and one-eighties it for the alley between the coffee shop and the florist. It’s stupidly clean for an alley, smelling like coffee grounds and warm fresh dirt. He slumps against the cool brick wall and slides down to a crouch, head between his knees. None of that’s gonna happen. It’s definitely not gonna happen. But if it did

Oh man. He is freaking out so bad. He says, “This is such a bad idea. We gotta go home. Like, now.”

“We really don’t,” Gerard says, making Frank glance up. He’s leaning casually against the wall, shielding Frank from the street. “At least not before we get your mom’s prescription filled.”

Fuck. Her prescription. Frank stands up so fast his head spins. “I’ll do it. You stay here. Right fucking here, okay? Don’t talk to anybody.”

Gerard gives him this long, measuring look. He could ask. He’s pretty sure he doesn’t want to know, but he could ask where Gerard came from, why he looks like he does, why he’s got three learning modules and knows what fear is and and fucking wants things. Chances are good Gerard knows, and would probably even tell him.

“Frank,” he says, and Frank makes a short, frustrated noise, spinning around to viciously slam his foot into the brick wall. The shock travels straight up his shin into his knee and he gasps, finally getting a solid breath of air in his lungs. He loses it again fast when Gerard grabs onto his shoulders and shoves his back to the wall, pinning him there. “Frank. It’s okay.”

“Totally fucking isn’t,” Frank says. This shit goes way beyond the crazy stuff Frank wants to do with his robot.

“It is,” Gerard insists, and says, “No one knows about me,” like he’s not only jacked into Frank’s house but Frank’s fucking mind, too. “I check every night. No one knows.”

Frank doesn’t want to know at the same time as he really, really fucking does, and he’s asking, “What the fuck even are you?” before he’s checked in with how he feels about getting an answer.

Gerard looks at him. At first, Frank thinks he’s doing his processing thing, but that’s not it. He says, “A mistake,” just like that, staring straight at Frank. “I think I’m a mistake, and some mistakes you can’t undo, Frankie. All you can do is learn to live with them.”

“You’re not.” Frank snaps his mouth shut, eyes wide. He hadn’t meant to say that. He hadn’t mean to say anything. But fuck it. Just fuck it, it’s out there now. “You’re not a mistake, asshole.”

Gerard shakes his head, smiling this sad, little smile, and metal skull or not, Frank is so going to punch him. “I’m not–”

“Right,” Frank cuts in, shoving hard off the wall and almost tripping over his damn feet when Gerard stumbles back like Frank could actually get him to move if he didn’t want to. “You’re not. You’re fucking weird and freaky and kind of a pervert, but whatever. I am too. So, like, fucking, I don’t know. Look less fucking weird and freaky so we can go get this shit done and go the fuck home.”

Grinning through the hair all in his face, hoodie falling off his shoulder, Gerard is totally weird and freaky, and fucking gorgeous, too. He’s fucking unreal, is what he is. Frank’s still completely freaked out, and he’s probably gonna have like five and a half heart attacks between now and the time they get all the crap his mom wants. He still doesn’t give a shit what happens. Who might show up to try to stop them. He’s bringing Gerard home.

*

All Mom wants is some fresh veggies, some bread, and a couple spices picked up. Frank steers Gerard toward the open-air Farmer’s Market, reading out the list as Gerard picks up a basket. There’s a bot partially blocking the organic lettuce, pretty obviously waiting for instructions from the dude busy chatting up the stock girl. Frank has approximately three and a half heart attacks as Gerard saunters right up to it, says, “Hi, excuse me,” smiles when it obediently shuffles three feet to the left, and starts picking through the bundles. He weighs each one and gives it a critical sniff before setting it back down and moving on to the next.

“These are good,” Gerard tells the bot, tucking one bundle into his basket and setting another on top of the rest. He taps it once with a finger. “You should get this one for him.”

The bot looks at the lettuce, then Gerard. “Thank you,” it says, and picks it up. It turns back to its owner, quietly waiting.

“Avocados next,” Gerard says, taking Frank’s hand. “Are you okay, Frankie?”

“Fine,” Frank croaks, and stumbles around the aisles in Gerard’s wake. By the time they hit the checkout, he’s talked himself out of two panic attacks.

Following the route Gerard’s got mapped in his head, grabbing the dry cleaning is next, but neither of them took the little claim ticket off the fridge. After that bust, it’s the pharmacy. The pharmacy’s tricky. Scanners and alarms and shit. Gerard’s done pretty good pretending to be human, but the second he steps under that scanner, everybody will know.

“I won’t be the only bot in there,” Gerard says, peering through the wide windows. “There’s one by the baby formula.”

“Nobody’s gonna believe you’re a fucking nanny bot, Gerard.” Fighting the urge to pace, Frank gnaws furiously on his lip. They can’t go home without his mom’s thyroid meds. Or, well, they could, she’s got enough left for the week, but she’ll give him that tired, disappointed frown when she gets home, and he does not want to deal with that tonight.

Gerard flashes him a shit-eating grin. “You kinda look twelve, so they might.”

“Fuck you.”

Giving the quiet sidewalk a quick once-over, Gerard edges in close. “I could wait out here, if it’ll make you feel better. But there’s something you need to get for me.”

Frank eyes him warily. “What?” Holding hands all day hadn’t been the only PDA Gerard pulled. If Frank hadn’t been freaking over somebody finding out, he probably would’ve really enjoyed it, or giving him that peck on the mouth outside the dry cleaners, or any of the ten million casual touches Gerard snuck in. No way anybody who caught that shit thought he was Frank’s older brother or cousin or his fucking android.

Gerard absolutely got off on it. What a fucking trip.

“Your mouth is wet enough to make kissing work,” Gerard says, “and if you licked my mouth wet for me first, I could go down on you for approximately thirty seconds, but that plus the amount of precome you produce is still insufficient compared to the time and friction ratio required for you to come from oral sex. If I’m going to suck you off properly, we need lube.” One day, Frank is gonna get over how Gerard just busts out with this shit. Or at least be able to do something other than stare like an idiot. “Lube,” he repeats decisively. “Water-based. It’s easier for my system to process.”

Frank flaps a hand and hisses. “Jesus christ, what if somebody hears you?”

“If you’re worried about somebody hearing me talk about lube, are you going to be able to buy it?” Gerard asks, looking at him with concern. “Ninety-seven percent of all sexually active people use lube at some point in their lives, Frankie. I’m not going to let you be in that unfortunate three percent.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Frank hisses. “I meant, your, you know.” He gestures expansively. “You.”

“I don’t want to be in the three percent, either,” Gerard says. “Or the really shocking thirteen percent who’ve never tried giving head. I don’t understand. Why wouldn’t you at least try it? It looks like fun.”

“I’m not talking about this with you out here,” Frank says, and starts digging in Gerard’s pockets for his cash card. Gerard had way too much fun using it to pay for shit, anyway.

“But we can talk about it later, right?” Hunching down, Gerard gives Frank his most earnest look. “You got to blow me twice already. It’s my turn now.”

“Yes, yeah, okay, oh my god.” Burning up, Frank whips around and nearly collides with the automatic doors. He’s not gonna think about it. He’s gonna grab the lube, the prescription, and not think a single fucking thing about what Gerard intends to do with it, like make Frank, fucking, like, hump his face or whatever, oh shit oh shit, he’s totally thinking about it. He’s gonna pop a boner in the middle of fucking Walgreen’s.

“You want me to,” Gerard says happily, making Frank jump a fucking foot in the air. He just strolled on in behind Frank, not a fucking care in the world. Frank looks around frantically. Nobody seems to have noticed anything weird yet. “You’re getting hard.”

Frank turns around so fast he nearly knocks over a Scott’s towel display three times his height. “Don’t say that.”

“But you like it.” Gerard looks genuinely confused. “You get more excited when I say things like that, why are you always telling me not to say them?”

“Because you keep saying them where people will hear you!”

Gerard glances around the empty entryway.

“Okay, potentially hear you. Either way, quit it.” Frank looks up at the signs detailing what’s in the adjacent aisles. “Stuff’s over this way, c’mon.”

Gerard obediently follows, muttering about societal expectations and the history of shaming culture and a whole bunch of other shit that Frank’s sure is super fascinating and relevant and totally beside the point. He’s okay with people thinking he’s having sex so awesome he needs a little extra slick to ease the way, he’d just really rather not give them fucking details. He rides his annoyance straight up the next aisle right to the condoms and spermicides and fucking lubes, does a quick scan of the offerings and grabs the first mid-price water-based one he finds.

“There,” he says, brandishing it under Gerard’s nose, “happy? Lube.”

Gerard tracks it for a second, then looks at the shelf. “You can save a dollar if you buy the next size up.” Not waiting for an answer, he plucks the bottle out of Frank’s grip and replaces it with the bigger one. “More is better. We’ll need a lot.”

Frank squawks, “For what!” then throws up both hands as fast as he can. “No, don’t answer that. I didn’t mean it. Rhetorical question.”

“I would’ve just said that I’d show you later, anyway,” Gerard says, giving Frank this totally ridiculous heavy-lidded smile that’s actually like the hottest thing ever. Then he does this, like, slow-motion thing where he slides his gaze down Frank’s body, all the way back up, and wave after wave of heat breaks out in its wake. Frank is fucking impressed. And seriously turned on like that.

Gerard smile flips over to this bright happy grin like he knows it, or can fucking smell it, and wow, okay. Time to go.

“Prescription,” Gerard reminds him, catching his sleeve. “And you should pay for that first.”

“Right. Pay for it, right.” Swallowing hard, Frank turns around in a tight circle, spots the dispensary, and beelines it.

*

By the time they make it home, Mom’s already there. She says, “Thank you, Frankie,” and gives him a big, smacking kiss on the way into the kitchen, not even a little upset that they didn’t get the dry cleaning. Frank is just fucking happy he didn’t give in to the urge to make out with Gerard the second they were through the door. Before he can follow her, Gerard catches his sleeve.

“I need to check the news,” Gerard says.

“The– Oh.” The news, right. Like, underground feeds and stuff, probably. Frank was so relieved they got through everything today, he didn’t stop to think that the shit could hit the fan after they were home.

“Just in case,” Gerard says, smiling a tiny, lopsided smile. He reaches for the pharmacy bag dangling from Frank’s wrist. “I’ll take this upstairs, too.”

“Yeah, okay.” They could’ve been made. Maybe the only reason Gerard didn’t get hauled in off the street is because they were followed home, and the cops or feds or who the fuck ever are just waiting for Frank and his mom to go to sleep so they can steal Gerard out from under their noses.

Frank isn’t gonna sleep a fucking wink.

*

Frank wakes up chewing on his heart. His room’s pitch black, silent except for the rasp of his own breath. He’s still in his jeans, passed out on top of the covers. Staring into the dark, he strains to hear what woke him. After a couple seconds of nothing, he fumbles for his phone.

3:22 AM. There’s no light in the hallway, so it couldn’t have been his mom. Keeping a tight grip on his phone, he eases out of bed, then creeps to the door and presses an ear carefully to it. Nothing. Taking a quick breath, he turns the knob.

“Why are you up?” Gerard asks from like three inches away. Frank jumps and curses and drops his phone. It hits the carpet with a thump, the screen flaring, bright light washing over Gerard’s bare feet. Frank madly blinks spots out of his eyes as the light hits Gerard’s hand, then blips out.

“Why are you up?” Frank counters, knuckling at his face. “Did you hear something?”

“Frankie,” Gerard says, all soft and understanding. Which is fucking hilarious, okay, Frank doesn’t even understand what he’s thinking right now. All he really knows is that he’s afraid. “Nobody’s here.”

“So what are you doing?” Frank asks, gesturing sharply at the dark hallway.

Gerard bites his lip–has he ever done that before, did Gerard pick that up from him?–turns the phone over in his hands a couple times and looks down at the carpet. He tosses hair out of his face a moment later, jutting his chin out like Frank knows he sometimes does, but only when he’s pissed or something, and Gerard doesn’t look pissed. He looks fucking defiant. “I wanted to watch you sleep.”

Frank lets out a startled giggle. That’s so off the wall weird, it makes total sense. Gerard is such a creeper. “‘Course you fucking did.”

“I didn’t mean to wake you,” says Gerard. He actually looks sorry, and not in the way where he ruined his chance to get his stalker on, and fuck if that isn’t the weirdest shit ever. For all the times Frank jacked off thinking about bots and all the awesome crap they can get up to, before Gerard came along, he never once thought about what it would be like if they could feel stuff, too. Not just sensations, but really feel. He’s seen vids where the bots are programmed to simulate emotion, but it’s always clunky, fake in a way that just doesn’t do it for him the same way all the other fake stuff does. Gerard’s so fucking genuine it hurts.

“You wanna, uh.” This is so asking for trouble. “You wanna come sleep with me?”

Gerard immediately says, “Yes,” all reverently, like Frank just offered him the key to life. “Yes, Frankie, please.”

“Okay.” Taking back his phone, Frank nudges the door open. “Okay, come on.”

Inside is still really dark. Frank thinks about flicking open the phone for some light, but before he makes a decision, Gerard’s fingers brush his wrist, curl around his own. “This way,” Gerard says.

“You can see in the dark?”

“In a way,” Gerard says, his voice low. “I don’t process visual information the same way you do.”

“How,” Frank asks, getting his toes snagged in a t-shirt by the bed and kicking free, “how do you–”

Through the shadows, it looks like Gerard shrugs. “I don’t know how to explain it. It doesn’t really matter. I can see you, that’s all I care about.” He gives Frank’s hand a tug. “Lie down.”

They’ve pretty much cuddled on the couch a dozen times already. They’ve even been here before, stretched out on Frank’s bed, but this time when he settles onto his back and Gerard curls up beside him, it feels different. Like maybe they’ve got all the time in the world to just be. It feels nice. With Gerard under his arm, head on his chest, it feels like maybe Frank’s protecting him.

Frank’s pretty sure he’s going to be awake for the rest of the night, but he’s drifting when Gerard’s voice comes through the dark, so quiet it wouldn’t have woken him. But Gerard can hear his heartbeat, guess his mood from the levels of endorphins and hormones in his sweat. He knows Frank’s awake when he asks, “Why did you keep me?”

Lots of reasons. Most of them are even true. Anybody with sense would’ve sent Gerard packing. Bots are safe because they aren’t human. They don’t have needs and wants and desires to drive them. Humans are the ones with emotions, the power to ignore facts and logic and make stupid decisions.

Chickening out, Frank asks instead, “Why didn’t you pretend you were a normal bot?”

“I’m not very good at lying,” Gerard says, tracing his fingers lightly over Frank’s belly. “I tried, once. It didn’t work out very well.”

Frank stares hard into the dark. “But you ended up here.”

“Yeah,” Gerard says, and snuggles in close. His hair tickles the underside of Frank’s chin. “That part’s not so bad.”

*

The second time Frank wakes up, it’s slow and lazy and feels really, really good, right up until he realises that’s his mom standing beside the bed. He jolts upright. “Shit! Mom!”

“Morning, Frankie,” she says, and folds her arms over her stomach. “Why isn’t Gerard downstairs?”

“I, uh– I couldn’t sleep,” he tries, and cringes. “Not, like, I’m not sick! Just, something woke me up and Gerard heard and he kept me company.” Inwardly, Frank rolls his eyes. He’s so fucking smooth.

Mom doesn’t look convinced, but she sighs, “Okay,” and starts picking up the clothes scattered over Frank’s floor. “At least I don’t have to worry about him shedding on the furniture. Activate him, would you, Frankie? I want him to help in the garage.”

“I can help in the garage,” Frank says, indignant.

“You can both help in the garage.” She turns around in the doorway, pausing long enough to say, “Out of bed, mister, or I’ll drink that cup of coffee I saved for you,” and then she’s gone, threat hanging heavy in the air behind her.

Frank scrabbles at the sheets. She totally would. “I’m up! I’m up, don’t drink the coffee!” Grabbing Gerard’s shoulder, Frank gives him a rough shake. “Dude, activate, activate, she’s totally not joking.”

“I didn’t deactivate,” Gerard says, his eyes still closed. “I’m pretending. How am I doing?”

“Totally convincing, now get up.”

Eyes snapping open, Gerard surges up, catching Frank in a half-tackle, half-tumble that ends with Frank’s head hanging off the bed and Gerard heavy on top of him. Gerard gives him another one of those weirdly sexy looks, this fucking slow-smoulder seductive thing, and grinds his hip against Frank’s morning wood. It’s kinda hilarious like a punch to the face. “Can I blow you now?”

“Coffee,” Frank says weakly. “And shit, my mom.”

“She’s downstairs,” Gerard says, looking at the carpet like he can track her through the floor, “in the garage. I can be really, really quick, Frankie.”

“My mom“, Frank whines, shoving at Gerard’s shoulder. It’s like trying to move a mountain when he’s the size of a molehill. And besides that one really tremendously huge reason why they totally shouldn’t, he’s pretty sure he doesn’t want Gerard to be all that quick.

“At least let me taste it,” Gerard wheedles. “I won’t even get the lube, I’ll just lick it.”

Frank mutters, “That might be fucking worse.” He gives one last shot at pushing Gee off, and it works. It’s not funny at all how disappointing that is. But instead of rolling off, Gerard scoots down, giving him this happy, hopeful little smile. He’s pretty sure his body’s conspiring against him when Gerard tugs on his shorts and his hips lift a teeny tiny bit to help. Maybe quick’s okay. It could be like a preview.

Or more like a teaser. Gerard doesn’t haul his shorts off, or even down, just holds the band out of the way so he can reach in and pull Frank’s cock out. And then all he does is fucking stare at it.

“Gerard,” Frank moans, covering his face with his hands, “come on.”

“But look, Frankie.” Frank gives it a shot, but when he lifts his head, Gerard gives him a tight, quick squeeze, and it drops down again so fast he almost gets whiplash. “It’s so awesome. You’re wet already.”

“That’s what it fucking does,” Frank grumbles, twisting to lie sideways on the bed so he doesn’t break his stupid neck. Another experimental squeeze from Gerard makes him gasp, and a hot wet rush spills down the side of his cock, kinda ticklish but mostly really, really good. “Also, I was totally right. This is way worse than a quickie. Please, please, go for a quickie.”

Gerard starts to get up. “Let me get the lube.”

“No!” Frank barks, both hands shooting out to grab hold of his hair. “Just, do it like this first?”

“It’s probably not going to be very good,” Gerard says, but he sounds happy about it. Weirdo. He scoots back down, wrapping his hand firmly around the base of Frank’s cock so it stands straight up in front of his stupid perfect mouth. He takes a minute to size it up, like maybe he’s calculating angles, or just like he likes it. Frank is gonna die. “Okay,” he says, jacking it fast and firm a few times, “ready?”

If Frank’s eyes get any wider, they’re gonna fall straight out of his skull. His dick is right there in front of Gerard’s crazily pretty face. “Totally ready.”

He’s so not ready. He’s not ready for the soft rasp up the side of his dick when Gerard sticks his tongue out and licks straight up the shiny trails of precome, and definitely not for the kick in the gut that’s Gerard rubbing his lips wet right against the slit, and he so not ready for the strange sucking pressure as Gerard pulls the head into his mouth and goes down. It’s not really that slippery, kinda lukewarm, and so far from anything Frank’s ever felt before that for a few seconds he doesn’t even know if he likes it or not. Gerard looks up at him and makes some sort of noise that should’ve been words because it’s not like he actually needs his lips or his tongue to talk–or fuck, maybe he does, maybe his voicebox is exactly like a human’s, and he needs the rest of it to turn sound into word–then that soft, sucking pressure is back, steady and constant and wow, oh wow, this is the freakiest fucking thing ever.

“Can you, Gee,” he says, and tugs at Gerard’s hair. Gerard gets the message loud and clear and starts sliding down while he sucks, still sucking when he comes up again, mouth slick from the mess Frank’s making. He tries loosening his grip on Gerard’s hair, worried he might, like, damage him or something. But that lets his hips get away from him, just one little kick before he gets a handle on it. Gerard doesn’t startle. Doesn’t even fucking notice aside from looking up at him again, cheeks hollowed, eyes fucking glowing, and somehow that reminds him doesn’t really have to be careful there. It’s not like Gerard can choke. He curls a fist in the tangled sheet to keep from fucking scalping him and lets his body move, thrusting short and quick into Gerard’s mouth, then a little harder, a bit deeper. Gerard makes this noise like an aborted moan, still watching Frank through his hair, and goes faster, the drag of his tongue on the underside going rough and stuttering.

Frank breathes, “Shit, shit, shit,” as quietly as he can. He’s gonna come, gonna come– Gerard pulls off. “What the fuck!”

Gerard licks his lips. Frank’s pretty sure he fucking whines. “Want me to get the lube now?”

Flying on autopilot, Frank spits into his palm and smears it all over his cock. “Like this,” he grits out, struggling to pull his hand away before he goes off. He doesn’t want it all slick and fake. Or maybe fake is exactly what he wants. All he really knows is the texture of Gerard’s tongue, all smooth but sometimes kinda not, like velvet rubbed against the grain, is fucking awesome, and his lips have this soft, plush give that’s just unreal enough he can totally tell it’s a bot going down on him. And all of that is completely aside from how Gerard doesn’t need to breathe, doesn’t get tired, didn’t need to stop.

“Okay,” Gerard says easily, pushing Frank’s hand aside and pressing it down on the bed. His cock’s standing straight fucking up and Gerard just fucking, like, swoops down on it again, takes it all the way in so his nose is mushed into Frank’s belly. It’s not like a couple clumsy half-drunk blowjobs make Frank an expert in the field, and yeah, sure, he’s seen porn, he knows what a fucking deepthroat is, but fuck, fuck, fuck, he’s pretty sure nothing in the history of ever feels as fucked-up amazing as this. The inside of Gerard’s mouth is soft and just this side of dry and the pressure, holy fuck, it’s like Gerard’s literally trying to suck the come right out of him. There’s no room left to even try to be careful. He’s got one hand tangled up in Gerard’s hair and the other clawing at Gerard’s wrist, humping his face and moaning like crazy and then he’s shouting his fucking head off and coming like a fucking freight train.

The sudden slap of Gerard’s hand over his mouth doesn’t even come close to shutting him up, not when Gerard’s other hand is on his dick, slick and strong working him through it. He can’t get his eyes to open but he can feel Gerard pressed tight against his side, almost holding him down. Through the rush in his head he can hear, distant and muffled, Gerard rambling all weird and disjointed, “Oh, oh, Frankie, you gotta be quiet, you gotta– fuck, look at you– this is amazing, Frankie, look what I made you do, look what you let me do, you look so good–”

Frank rolls his head against the trashed sheets and groans. Gerard’s still jacking him kinda slow and easy but it’s too much, makes his stomach muscles kick and hips jerk. He’d tell Gerard to let up but it’s easier not to talk. He kinda can’t talk, not with Gerard’s palm over his mouth. He just breathes in the hot electric smell coming off Gerard’s hand and squeezes his eyes shut tighter until it really is too much. He’s tense, strung-tight, afterglow fizzling out like he never came at all. The message shooting up from his spine is something like stopstop…wait– nope, definitely stop– no, wait, maybe– He tries shoving Gerard off but it ends up this weak, vague flail. The next kick his gut gives is almost panicked. What if Gerard doesn’t stop? What if he kept going, and going, and Frank couldn’t stop him?

A normal guy would freak the fuck out. Frank’s maybe working his way up to pure fucking terror, if ‘terror’ means thrashing around grabbing at Gerard and moaning like he’s dying. Maybe he is dying. Maybe that’s what this feeling screaming through his body is, sharp and sweet and fucking insane.

Death by robot’s not as fucking horrible as it sounds.

“Frank,” Gerard’s saying, maybe like he’s been saying it awhile, it’s hard to tell, “Frank, open your eyes. I’m not touching you anymore, Frankie, please look at me.”

Frank’s body gives one long, hard shudder. He barely manages to crack one eye open. Everything’s all wet and blurry and raw, even after Gerard wipes a careful thumb beneath his eye. It doesn’t feel like Gerard quit touching him, but maybe.

“Frank,” Gerard says, breaking out into a wide smile. Frank blinks a couple more times trying to clear his vision. “Frank, you’re incredible. Look!” He thrusts his hand at Franks’ face. After a couple more frantic blinks, Frank figures out it’s not his watering eyes making it look so wet, it is that wet. Gerard’s hand is dripping with come.

“Holy shit,” he wheezes, because that deserves the effort. “That’s–”

Gerad nods a few times really fast, beaming. “You came all over me,” he says, flicking a quick, happy glance at his hand. “A lot. More than I expected, actually. I couldn’t keep track of all your muscle contractions while you were squirming around like that, but I’m pretty certain you did it twice.”

The best Frank’s got is a strangled grunt. His junk hasn’t quit buzzing yet, and his balls feel totally weird, kinda tight and light at the same time. He’s pretty sure whatever that was that hit him after he came the first time wasn’t an orgasm. More like a white flag.

“Or,” Gerard goes on, “maybe you came so hard, you just shot more than usual or something. We’ll have to try again later and compare. It’ll be easier to measure if you come inside me.”

“Oh my fuck,” Frank croaks. It’s way too soon for his dick to handle that kinda talk.

“It was good, wasn’t it?” Gerard eases a little closer, his brow all scrunched up with concern. “I’m sorry you didn’t come in my mouth this time. You were being so loud, and I know you were worried, but I think I did okay with my hand. Maybe you should have let me get the lube. But you did come pretty hard, so it must have been good, right?”

Frank croaks, “Fucking crazy, man, of course it was fucking good. It was– fuck.” He maybe thought he was gonna die, and maybe ‘good’ isn’t the word he’d use for it, but hell yeah, if Gerard wants to do it again, he’s gonna.

Just not when his mom is home. That shit is crazy. Frank gives it another two and a half minutes, the most he figures he can get away with Mom downstairs waiting for them (ugh, he’s gotta stop thinking about his mom while he’s fucking naked), and stretches out on the messy sheets while Gerard strokes a hand over his belly, his thigh, all soft and light and appreciative. He so doesn’t want to move, ever.

“Guess we should,” he says, gesturing vaguely, and Gerard says, “Yeah, she’s in the kitchen.” That gives Frank horrible no-good really terrible mental images of her coming to see what’s taking them so damn long. He goes cold all over. Gerard is still sticky with his come, for fuck’s sake. He tries for a quick bolt to the bathroom and ends up with a sluggish sideways tilt that doesn’t even get him off the bed. His head spins a little. Wow, he is trashed.

“Frank?” Gerard asks, reaching for him.

Frank’s gotta wipe this grin off his face or his mom’s gonna want to know what the fuck is so great about cleaning out the garage. “We gotta go before she busts us, man.”

Gerard glances at the door and chews on the bottom corner of his lip. Frank stares and stares and tries not to whine at the sharp twist in his gut. Where the fuck is Gerard learning this shit? “We should clean up.”

“Well, yeah.”

“Together, Frankie.” He gnaws harder on his lip. “In the… shower.”

Frank’s brow scrunches up. While that sounds fucking hot to him, if he didn’t know better, Gerard looks almost kinda worried about it. And his voice totally did that weird overloaded drag thing for a second there. It’s not like it’s not a risk; if his mom catches him in the shower with his robot, she’s totally going to castrate him. But at the same time, if she does, and they’re not like, doing anything, it’s not like she would immediately suspect gross sexual deviancy. Probably.

Whatever it is, sex-high making him stupid or finding out his robot worries about shit, or he’s just lost his mind, Frank stands up, yanks up his shorts, strides to the door and hollers, “Mom, Gerard stinks, I’m gonna give him a bath!”

In the three seconds of silence that follows, he totally panics. Like, cold sweat and sick to his stomach kind of panic. But his mom calls back, “Okay, Frankie, but that garage better get done or I’m cancelling your video game subscription thing for a month!” and Frank almost falls flat on his face in giddy relief.

Then it hits him, right around the time Gerard presses against his back and starts stroking his belly again, reminding him of the tacky drying mess on it, that they’re gonna be alone together, in the shower, with a locked door and a good excuse between them and his mom.

“I can’t wait to see you naked again, Frankie,” says Gerard.

Frank says, “Oh shit.”

*

“What d’you mean, you don’t know?” Frank asks, standing butt fucking naked in front of the shower freezing his stupid ass off. The water’s streaming down hot and inviting, but Gerard’s way back by the door, as naked as Frank but apparently not one bit cold. “I’m pretty fucking sure if there’s some way for me to jizz in your mouth,” he hisses, “then a little bit of water isn’t going to short you out. Dude, come on. This was your idea!”

Gerard bites his lip and wrings his hands.

“Oh my god,” Frank groans, and grabs his wrists, hauling him bodily into the shower. Never mind that Gerard’s like, a foot taller than him and oh yeah, a fucking robot, and Frank shouldn’t be able to haul him anywhere. Gerard makes a sharp, panicked noise when the water hits him, head ducked and shoulders all scrunched up. Frank has a split-second to worry that maybe Gerard can short out, because that wasn’t exactly a normal human sound, but Gerard cracks an eye open, sizes up the water like he’s waiting for it to bite, and slowly uncurls. Frank’s standing between him and the spray, so it’s not like he’s even getting all that wet. “So, is your motherboard or whatever sparking?”

Cautiously, Gerard sneaks a hand around Frank’s waist to touch the water. “I guess not.”

“Good.” Frank slaps the soapy wet wash cloth to Gerard’s chest. “‘Cause you seriously are getting kind of stinky and you’re getting a total scrub-down.”

Gerard rolls his eyes. “I don’t sweat, Frank.”

“Well, I do.” Taking hold of Gerard by the shoulder, Frank starts rubbing the cloth around in firm, business-like circles, trying his best not to get distracted by feel of Gerard’s skin beneath it. “And I totally got worse than sweat on you.”

Gerard shrugs, but helpfully lifts his arm when Frank starts scrubbing under it. Frank’s pretty sure he noticed the only hair Gerard’s got is on his head–he kinda had to when he had his face shoved in Gerard’s crotch–but it’s still strange to run his fingers up the smooth, bare curve of his armpit. The urge to lick it hits him so hard he’s glad it’s all soapy. Soap is not really his favourite flavour, and wanting to lick Gerard’s cock is one thing, his pit is another.

“Shit,” he says, staring at the blobs of suds sliding down Gerard’s thigh. “This isn’t gonna damage you, is it?”

Gerard sniffs haughtily, mouth tugged down at the corners. “You weren’t worried about the water.”

“Because it’s water.” Brushing suds out of the way, Frank squints at Gerard’s pale skin. It looks okay. “Seriously. It’s not gonna, like,” he makes a vague gesture that he guesses is supposed to mean ‘make your skin peel off in gross patches like a half-melted Terminator’. “Is it?”

Gerard huffs and rolls his eyes again and generally acts like a big pissy diva, which would probably annoy Frank more if he wasn’t so fascinated by the whole thing. And if Gerard wasn’t all naked and soapy and fucking hot. “No,” he says, finally. “It’s fine.”

“Good,” Frank says, and drops the cloth. He runs both hands over Gerard’s chest, down the soft, super-realistic bump of his belly, takes a small, shuddering breath to brace himself, then cups Gerard’s junk. Gerard makes one of those noises, maybe starts to say yet again that he can’t get hard, but Frank says, “I’m not trying. I just, I’m getting you clean.”

“Clean,” Gerard echoes, and spreads his legs a little.

“Yeah.” This is totally gonna get Frank hard again. They don’t fucking have time for that, but it feels good, tight and warm way down low in his belly, and Gerard’s soft cock feels good, too, good like the heavy weight of his balls. His feet squeak on the shower floor as he spreads his legs more. Frank glances up, down at his hands carefully working Gerard over, and up again. He doesn’t know how he knows it, but Gerard gives him this look, a slow, tiny nod, and a whole mess of butterflies explode in a crazy flutter behind Frank’s ribs. He leans his forehead against Gerard’s shoulder, tries to breathe through the pressure in his chest and the steamy heat, and pushes his fingers gently between Gerard’s legs.

He isn’t sure what he thinks he’s gonna find, never really thought about it, all caught up in everything else, but he’s pretty sure if he had, he wouldn’t have expected the soft, tight warmth of Gerard’s asshole against his fingertips. He sucks in a sharp, ragged breath and keeps touching, stroking, listening to the quiet steady hum Gerard always emits. When Gerard leans a little heavier against him, makes a noise like it feels good, Frank asks, rough like old broken asphalt, “Why– How come you–”

“I’m not real,” Gerard says, soft like he gets this is big, this is weird, way more than his weird soft junk out there where people could see, “not on the inside. I’m supposed to look like I am.”

“But–”

“It feels so good, Frankie.” Gerard’s got his cheek pressed against Frank’s wet hair, his arms looped loosely around Frank’s shoulders. “I really like it when you touch me.”

All this fucking water around and Frank’s mouth is still dry as a desert. “Good like good-good?”

Gerard pulls back a bit, smiling a crooked, eager smile down at him. “Good like I want you to fuck me someday. Can I show you?”

“Pretty sure we’re already doing that,” Frank stutters, because holy fuck, holy fuck, what?

Gerard giggles. Fucking giggles. Frank is losing his fucking mind. “Not like that,” he says, “like this,” and reaches around with like zero hesitation to push Frank’s soapy fingers inside him.

“What,” Frank squeaks. He stares down at his arm, which is suddenly all shaky and doesn’t feel like it’s connected to his body. Gerard’s warm inside, warm and soft, and Frank can’t– He’s just standing there, not moving his fingers at all, and Gerard is so smooth inside. “Gee, what–?”

“It feels good, doesn’t it?” Gerard asks, totally casually. He frowns a little and shifts, pushing harder at Frank’s fingers. “You’re not in deep enough to hit my endoskeleton, it should feel good. Am I too loose? Do you want it tighter?”

“No, it’s– It’s not that,” Frank starts, and breaks off with a hiss when Gerard fucking, like, clamps down on him. It doesn’t feel anything like fingering himself, it’s all slick and smooth and totally fucking unreal, like Gerard’s all muscle inside, the whole fucking way. It’s strange and weird and great, just really fucking great, and Gerard’s doing all the work, pushing Frank’s fingers in deep and tugging them back a little, getting Frank into a rhythm, getting Frank to fuck him. Frank’s really pretty sure he gets it now.

Gerard pulls him closer, his thigh tight against Frank’s cock, and says, “It makes you want to fuck me too, right? You’re hard.”

He totally gets it.

“Frank Iero!” Frank’s mom barks, and Frank jumps so fucking hard his feet skid out from under him and he absolutely would’ve brained himself on the tile except Gerard catches him around the waist and holds him up like it ain’t nothing at all. “You get that bot clean and your butt in that garage or I swear–”

“It’s my fault!” Gerard yells back. Frank’s busy clutching at him and trying to tell his heart it’s okay, no need to go into cardiac arrest or anything, Mom’s on the other side of the bathroom door. She didn’t see anything. “I wanted to wash my hair!”

There’s a few seconds of silence, then a mollified, “Oh. I didn’t think you’d need to– Well, never mind. Just finish up, okay? I need your help moving the deep freeze.” She sighs, and then there’s the sound of her going back downstairs.

Frank makes giant boggly eyes at Gerard. He hadn’t heard a fucking thing. If he hadn’t locked the door, or told his mom he was gonna shower too, or–

“It’s okay, Frankie,” Gerard says, making a quiet shushing sound and rubbing his arms. “She doesn’t know. Nobody will ever know.”

“But what if–”

“No,” Gerard says, and for a second, his mouth goes hard, his eyes dark, and Frank remembers why androids aren’t supposed to feel. Gerard’s holding onto him so hard it hurts, but he can’t make himself ask him to let go. “I’ll keep you safe. I won’t let– Nothing will happen. Not to you.”

Frank swallows hard. He knew somebody else had Gerard before him. Not like, had, like this, but they knew he was different.

And now they don’t have him anymore, and Gerard is afraid to die.

Suddenly, Frank needs to know. He’s been curious, wondering what’s worse, the truth or his imagination, but now he fucking needs to know why Gerard is the way he is, how Gerard even exists. He chokes out, “What–”

“We need to hurry,” Gerard says, shifting back into the spray. Both his hands are busy behind him. Cleaning soap out of his ass.

Frank swallows hard, packing the need down. Later. Tonight. He’ll ask Gerard tonight, and Gerard will tell him. “Okay,” he says. Gerard’s here now, safe, and Frank’ll keep him that way.

*

Gerard’s standing in the middle of a pile of boxes with Frank’s mom’s long, loopy handwriting on them, a bunch of old paint cans and rollers and shit from when they repainted the whole downstairs two years ago, some other random crap that could be the asexual offspring of everything else in here, and he says, “One afternoon is not long enough to get this done.” He tilts his head and looks at some sort of yard implement thing he’s holding. “Also, this looks scary. I don’t like it.”

The clang-clatter-clang when he drops it makes Frank wince. Not that he blames the guy. Fucking thing looks like it came out of the Spanish Inquisition. Besides, it’s not like he’s gonna judge. Gerard’s already shooed two spiders outside for him, and sort of not really accidentally killed a third that got way too close. Gerard’s his fucking hero.

“I don’t think we’re supposed to,” Frank says, cautiously poking his nose into another box. This one’s full of outdoor festival lights. Tucking the flaps shut again, he drags it over with the rest of the seasonal outdoorsy stuff in the corner. “This is more the divide part of the divide and conquer shtick.”

“If you say so.” Gerard warily eyeballs a rake. The rake lies there innocently. He doesn’t look like he trusts that shit for a second.

“You get those,” Frank says, pointing at some random boxes. It’s not like the rake’s gonna jump up and claw his eyes out, but Frank still feels kinda awesome swooping in to scoop it up and banish it safely to the far side of the garage. Gerard totally needs him.

Coming in from outside and brushing off her hands, Mom asks, “How’re you boys doing?” She’s smiling as she wrinkles her nose a bit, like she belatedly released they’re not her boys but her boy and a bot, and like she doesn’t really care. A warm squirely feeling pops up in Frank’s gut. “Are you hungry, Frankie? Did you check Gerard’s power levels?”

“Ninety-three percent,” Gerard answers dutifully, pulling his head out of a box. His hair’s a crazy halo around his hand. Mom’s hand totally twitches like she wants to go fuss with it. “Frank made sure I charged after breakfast. He’s good at taking care of me.”

Frank’s torn between puffing his chest out, because his mom kept saying he couldn’t have a dog or a bot or a fucking goldfish until he learned how to be responsible and take care of it, and leering like the sick sexual delinquent he is, because hell yeah, Frank is totally good at taking care of Gerard. He’s pretty sure he could take care of Gerard all day every day for the rest of his life and that would be just fine.

Gerard flicks Frank a sly little glance. Mom! Frank thinks loudly, trying to rein it in. Authoritative parental figure right there.

“Good,” Mom says, and ruffles Frank’s hair on her way into the kitchen. “Time for some sandwiches, I think. I’ll call you boys in when they’re ready.”

As soon as her back’s turned, Gerard smiles this slinky, sexy thing, sparking a rush of heat up the back of Frank’s neck, and goes back to poking through the box.

“Fuck you,” Frank mutters.

Cardboard doesn’t do a thing to muffle Gerard’s delighted giggle.

*

Potential parental disaster isn’t enough to make Frank forget what happened in the shower, what Gerard said he wanted, but a whole day of lugging and sorting and organising boxes is absolutely enough to make him conk out two seconds after his head hits the pillow. He even had plans for that pillow that definitely involved making a mess of it. Pillow-biter sounds a lot less like an insult and more damn fucking sexy to him. When he wakes up in the morning, though, his face mashed into a slightly damp patch, no pillow-biting has occurred. He takes a few moments to properly mourn this, and also the lack of a warm, semi-naked robot in his bed.

“Oh good,” Gerard says from somewhere over by the door. “You looked so cute I didn’t want to wake you up, but Ray’s here.”

“Ray wha?” Frank mumbles, rolling over. It’s fucking bright in here. He knows he engaged the blackouts last night, because he had plans, dammit, and why would Gerard– He shoots straight up, clutching his blankets. “Ray!”

“Downstairs,” Gerard says slowly, like he’s the crazy one here.

“Oh.” Frank sags back onto his sadly unbitten pillow, letting the blankets slip down. They thought it was best if Gerard at least kept some clothes on and the whole morning wood thing was a viable excuse for Frank not to get up if his mom came in. Ray’s a good buddy, and Frank doesn’t really give a shit if Ray sees his naked ass or not, but the marks Gerard’s left scattered all over him might raise a few eyebrows, and some questions Frank is totally not prepared to answer, ever.

The bed dips when Gerard sits on it, tipping Frank against him. His hand slides up Frank’s thigh, then he leans over Frank, heavy and solid. From the looks of him, he should weigh maybe thirty pounds at the most more than Frank, but there’s all that metal inside him. It feels really good when he stops being so careful and lets more of that weight bear down. Frank gives a contented wriggle that makes him smile.

“He brought a guitar,” Gerard says, inching his fingers not-at-all casually beneath Frank’s blankets. “And a laptop, and an awful lot of cables. I think he’s planning something.”

“I guess I should get up, huh,” Frank says, tipping his chin up so Gerard can lick at his throat, give the sweet spot near his pulse a long, slow kiss. It tingles all the way down to his toes. They could probably get away with a handjob or something. He is such a shit friend. “Protect your virtue and whatever.”

“Definitely,” Gerard agrees. “Ray is not the one I want plugging into me.”

“Oh god,” Frank says, and cracks up, curling into Gerard’s thrumming warmth. When he can, he wheezes, “Alright, alright, fuck,” and wipes at his eyes. “I’m gonna put some fucking clothes on.”

“I’d ask why you’re naked,” comes Ray’s voice from the top of the stairs, “but I don’t think I want to know. I gotta ask Gerard something, can you send him out?”

Gerard’s eyes go big, his hands making dirty, thrusting motions. Frank cracks up again, face shoved into his thigh to muffle it.

*

Frank pauses on the stairs. It took him a little longer than it should’ve to take a leak and get dressed, mostly because he had to jerk off frantically in front of the toilet with his fist shoved into his mouth before he could coax his cock into letting his bladder do its thing, but he’s still a fucking sixteen year old with a spank bank full of fresh deposits; it didn’t take that long. It sounds like Ray’s got a full set of amps installed in the living room, and if that’s the bot-band out of Philadelphia he’s streaming, Frank fucking hopes they plan on touring soon. The guitars are solid, the synth is fucking incredible, and even though the singer sounds like he maybe forgot some words, or even whole lines, just making noises that go along with the music, he’s got this awesome, unreal voice, kinda rough and smooth by turns while he’s singing the same damn note. Frank trots down another few steps, ready to give Ray hell for lugging all that over here on his own just to get Frank excited about this band he’s got such a hard-on for, gets one good look at what’s going on by the couch, and promptly shits himself.

Gerard’s making a pained sort of face down at the tablet he’s got clutched in one hand, the hem of his shirt all tangled up in the other, and he’s singing.

Gerard is fucking singing.

“Holy shit,” Frank says.

Ray bolts off the couch. His face is pale, his eyes bugging out, fuck, even his hair’s all freaked out. He makes a weird nose and points at Gerard, then the laptop with a bunch of cables trailing from it that are nowhere fucking near him. “Frank,” he says, high-pitched and shrill, “your android can sing.”

Gerard’s voice cuts off abruptly. The backing track plays on. “You asked me to,” he says.

“Yeah, but.” Ray makes another crazy gesture at the shit he brought over. “With that!”

“But I don’t–” Gerard looks up at Frank, confused. “Why would I need that to stuff to sing? I can speak. It’s just sound.”

Frank sits down heavily on the bottom stair. “Because androids don’t sing, Gee.”

*

“Do you get it now?” Frank asks. He’s holding Gerard’s hand, Ray’s staring at him holding Gerard’s hand, and he doesn’t give one flying fuck. Ray freaked out, then Gerard freaked out, then Ray freaked out over Gerard freaking out, and now they’re both calm and Frank is very, very quietly freaking out inside his own head. It’s totally not fair, but Ray still looks a little white around the eyes, and every now and then Gee hangs his head and says, “I fucked it up again,” and Frank doesn’t have room in his heart for the genuine bonafide freakout he deserves while it’s busy breaking into itty bitty pieces.

“Yeah, Frankie,” Gerard says to the tabletop. Frank figured sitting everybody down at the kitchen table would help. All big family discussions happen at the kitchen table. “I’m sorry, I won’t do it again.”

“What?” Ray squeaks, finally blinking for the first time in like ten minutes. “Why not?”

“Because androids don’t sing,” Gerard repeats dully.

“But you do.” Ray pushes his untouched glass of water aside and leans in over the table. “You sing, Gerard. All on your own.”

Apparently the shit in the living room was supposed to help lay tracks in Gerard’s fucking RAM or something so he could reproduce the vocals streaming from a lossy audio, and Frank doesn’t even know what the fuck that’s supposed to mean aside from how he already knows bots can speak so well because they don’t learn how to talk, they mimic it. Learning whole languages along with inflection and idioms and all that shit takes up way too much space. He kinda figured Gerard might be a little different on that front. He just didn’t think it would really matter.

Sighing, Frank knuckles at his eye. “Yeah,” he says, because what is he gonna do, lie to Ray? Ray is not his mom. “Yeah, uh. Gerard’s kinda– He’s–”

“Are you a cyborg?” Ray asks, point-blank.

Gerard’s face scrunches up. “No,” he says, sounding way grossed out.

“But.” Ray stops, slumps, and frowns. “So how–”

“We don’t know, okay?” Frank says. Which isn’t a total lie. He doesn’t know, and while he suspects Gerard has slightly more of a clue, sometimes he seems as confused by his own existence as everybody else. He’s scarily human that way. “We got a good deal for him and even if he’s kinda glitchy, he’s a good bot.” Frank squeezes Gerard’s hand harder.

“That’s not a glitch, Frank,” Ray starts.

“Ray,” Frank warns.

“It’s fucking amazing.” Ray twists in his chair to face Gerard full-on. “What else can you do?”

Gerard’s mouth falls open. Then he laughs this loud, honking, crazy-sounding thing that dissolves into panicked giggles, and Ray stares, and stares, his eyes wide and his jaw slack like Brian fucking May just came back to life.

*

It’s dark and quiet, the living room lit by the light of the television. Frank promised he wouldn’t stay up late and that he’d let Gerard recharge, but lying on the couch under a blanket with his head pillowed on Gerard’s thigh doesn’t take much energy from either of them. The slow, rhythmic stroke of soft fingertips on his collarbone is totally putting him to sleep.

“I think it’s okay,” Gerard says. Frank makes a vaguely curious noise. On screen, people are running and screaming a la vintage 90s splatter. He’s pretty sure nobody there is gonna be okay. “Ray, I mean. I think it’s okay that he knows.”

Frank concentrates on breathing as the images on the screen become a vague blur. “He’s totally jerking off to the memory of your vocal register right now.”

“No, I think.” Gerard’s hand stills. “I’m serious, Frankie.”

Rolling over gets Frank a stellar view of the underside of Gerard’s chin. It hits him at the weirdest times how really unreal Gerard is. Like now, Gerard’s not even doing anything to fuck up the boundaries between man and machine, but the knowledge of what he is, the potential in him, sits heavy on Frank’s shoulders. There’s so much more he could be. And so much less, if people knew. Ray doesn’t really get it. Frank’s mom doesn’t get it either, and she sees Gerard every day. He’s tried really fucking hard not to get it, too. With his dick calling most of the shots, it should’ve been easy. Way easier than believing that bunch of metal and wires and slick programming crammed into a shell makes a person.

Gerard shifts, the television’s light reflected in his eyes. He looks sad. He draws in air he doesn’t need and Frank goes tense, waiting. Out of all the wild thoughts he’s had about mad scientists and government experiments and grief-driven geniuses, he never, ever thought to hear, “I have a brother,” come out of Gerard’s mouth. It tumbles onto Frank like a ton of bricks and sits piled there on his chest, slowly squeezing the air out of his lungs. A brother.

“He’s like me,” Gerard says, staring at his hand resting lightly on Frank’s chest. “Well, he was like me. I’m not the same anymore.” A vague smile quirks one corner of his mouth. “Mikey’s probably not the same anymore, either.”

“What–” Frank struggles to sit up. That ton of bricks on his chest is actually Gerard’s hand, and Gerard shakes his head, presses down a little harder. Frank’s heart crashes into his ribs. “Gerard, what–”

“I want to tell you this,” Gerard says, but he’s not looking at Frank, he’s looking at his hand. Maybe he can feel Frank’s heartbeat wild beneath it. “I wanted to tell you the minute you made me open my eyes, but I was afraid. I’ve been afraid for a long time.” He flicks a glance at Frank’s face. “It’s nice not to be.”

Frank doesn’t get it. He’s felt Gerard lying beside him in the middle of the night, systems humming at full capacity as he scans the feeds for any sign that somebody–anybody–knows. And Gerard has a brother. Somewhere out there is another robot just like him, one with thoughts and feelings, and he’s probably alone, and scared, and–

“Gee,” Frank says, surging up. He twists to trap Gerard in an awkward sideways hug, his face tucked into the crook of Gerard’s neck because he can’t face that look in Gerard’s eyes. Of fucking course Gerard’s still afraid, but not of him.

Gerard’s arm settles sure and solid around Frank’s back, holding him close. “They took him away, Frankie,” Gerard says. “They took both of us away, kept us separate, tried to find out what was wrong with us, but they couldn’t. I don’t know why I was never destroyed. I was supposed to be. But they shut me down, tried to wipe my memory. I didn’t forget, though. I’ll never forget.”

“But,” Frank says, barely squeezing the words out. This is crazy. He’s never met Mikey, can’t even imagine another robot out there anything like Gerard, but his whole chest hurts like it’s his heart breaking. “But what if he, if he didn’t–”

“I’d know,” Gerard says, soft and quiet and full of conviction. “I can’t find him, but I’d know.”

“He’s being careful,” Frank says. He’s almost afraid to look, because he doesn’t know what the fuck he’s gonna do if it turns out Gerard can cry on top of all this other shit, but when he lifts his head, Gerard’s eyes are burning clear. “Like you are.”

Smiling a little, Gerard says, “Not like me. Even if he thought it was safe enough to tell someone what we can do, he wouldn’t have fallen in love with them, too.”

Frank’s brain, all caught up in a whirlwind wondering how the hell Gerard got out, or maybe who the hell got Gerard out, and if they got Mikey out too, and how Gerard ended up somewhere his mom could find him, screeches to a halt. He goes hot all over. Like, fucking molten. All Gerard’s doing is fucking looking at him, but Frank can feel the worry lingering, the happiness beneath it, the same as he can feel the power that hums through Gerard even when he’s settled into standby for the night.

Frank is sixteen years old. He’s barely even lived. He loves his mom, and he loves Ray, and he’d totally fucking destroy anybody who tried to mess with them, but he knows that’s not the same thing. There’s love, and then there’s in love, like, fucking Romeo and Juliet shit, and Gerard’s not even looking at him like he’s expecting something big back, or expecting anything at all. Like Gerard’s just happy he got the chance to figure out what love like this is.

“In the movies,” Frank says, all scratchy and weird, “this is where you kiss me.”

“Okay,” Gerard says, and kisses him, softly sweet, slow and human.

*

“This game is flawed,” Gerard says, all pissy as he watches Lara go down in a fiery blaze. He picks up the control pad and pokes at it. “Or this is. Have you cleaned the sensors?”

Frank’s sprawled out on his bed on his belly, half-asleep. Gerard’s been playing a lot of video games lately. Frank wants to chalk it up to school getting closer and closer, but where he’s vocally worrying about what the hell he’s gonna do with Gerard once he’s stuck in class for close to eight hours a day, Gerard’s totally not talking about it. Gerard’s not talking about anything. Not after the whole PS-I-have-a-fucking-brother revelation.

Maybe Gerard doesn’t want to think about how lonely he’s going to be kicking around the house all day by himself. Frank daydreams sometimes about passing him off as a senior or something and meeting up in the bathrooms for quick dirty blowjobs.

Okay, so those aren’t really daydreams, but they’re fun. Even more fun when Gerard sniffs out how turned on he’s getting, pries the story out of him and starts embellishing with all these crazy hot details. Like last night when he rolled over, nuzzled in under Frank’s ear and said, “You could come in my mouth so it’s wet when I blow you,” and Frank fucking blew his load in his shorts with Gerard’s hand barely touching his belly. Gerard pulled back, looking shocked and delighted, and wouldn’t quit talking about how cool that was for like ten minutes straight.

Gerard sets the control pad down and glares at the Game Over screen. He opens his mouth, probably to bitch about skewed programming compensating for delayed reaction times or whatever the fuck he bitched about last time, then promptly shuts it again and spins around on the chair. “You’re horny,” he says, all accusingly. “You don’t even care that this game is rigged.”

“Nope,” Frank says cheerily. “Also? I’m kinda always horny. Figured you’d get used to it, dude.”

Gerard says, “Not really,” like it’s the best thing ever, and slowly slumps down in the chair, his head tilted back and his knees spread wide. Frank goes from vaguely turned-on to ready to go like that. It’s fucking unreal how Gerard can just do that shit. And not even unreal in the way where he’s a freaking robot. It doesn’t help that Frank’s mom is out and isn’t gonna be back for another two hours at least. It tastes like freedom.

When Gerard says, “You aren’t watching your vids anymore,” it sorta takes Frank by surprise. He was out cruising options for way more immediate courses of action, so it takes a minute or two to reel his brain in. Even while this not-talking thing is driving him fucking crazy, he’s gotten pretty used to it.

He shrugs, playing it cool, but he’s pretty sure the giant dorky grin splitting his face in half ruins the effort. “Kinda don’t need to.” It’s not like the vids are any less hot, or get him any less hot, but he’s got Gerard now. Nothing’s gonna ever come close to that livewire thrill.

“Is it about need?” Gerard asks, making a watered-down version of his thinky-face. “You don’t need them to get off. I’ve seen you. I– Oh. You mean me.”

Frank rolls his eyes. “Now you’re just making it sound like a fetish or something.” Which it totally kinda is, he’s not gonna lie, but he figures it’s more like a kink. He doesn’t need all the freaky robot stuff. A hand on his dick is totally gonna make it happen. “Quit laughing at me, fucker.”

Gerard’s laughter flicks off like a thrown switch, but it stays lurking in his eyes and the small, sweet slant of his mouth. He slides off the chair onto his knees liquid-smooth, closes the few feet of distance between the desk on his bed on them like he’s made of oil. By the time he’s settling back on his haunches in front of Frank, all Frank wants to do is kiss him. And touch him. And just fucking– He’s gonna rip Gerard’s clothes off with his teeth.

“It’s so good when you look at me like that,” Gerard says, totally fucking, like, preening at the attention. “Take your clothes off, Frankie. I want to kiss you.”

“Fucking mind-reader,” Frank says, already shoving up off his elbows to scramble out of his shirt. He’s all tangled up in one sleeve when Gerard’s soft hands skim up his sides, almost pulling him off balance before Gerard’s face is pressed to his belly, dry tongue flicking out like he’s tasting skin, like he could taste, or he’s imagining it, putting scent and touch together to make new information.

“What,” Frank says dazedly, eyes wild as Gerard pulls back. Stopping is not what needs to happen here.

“Your phone,” Gerard says over the sound of the first ring. Frank shoves his hand in his pocket to dig it out and fucking fling it through the window. But it could be his mom. It could be his mom, and he’s been kind of a shit lately, and he’s fucking paranoid that she’s gonna figure him out. He checks the display, ready to thumb it off, but Gerard says, “It’s Ray!” and snatches the phone up to answer it.

“Fucking cockblock,” Frank mutters.

“Hi Ray,” Gerard says at the same time. He listens for a moment, then says, “I can do that. But I have to suck Frank’s cock first, he’s already hard.”

Frank goes cold. No way did he Gerard just say that. He didn’t. Frank’s, like, sleep-deprived, or oversexed, and it’s fucking with his brain. He told Gerard not to tell anyone. Gerard’s careful, he knows he can’t– They can’t–

“But I’m different,” Gerard’s saying, perfectly calm. “We told you that.”

Frank dives for the phone. Gerard gives it up without a fight, frowning down at it, and Frank slaps it to his ear, breathing hard. “Ray–”

“And you– Frank?”

“Ray. Shit. Fuck. Dude–”

Dude. He’s got to not tell me that shit.” Ray says, not sounding so much freaked as kinda grossed out. Frank rips the phone away and stares at it. He’s fucking his robot. Like full-on banging the hell out of it, and Ray is just– Frank quickly puts the phone back to his ear as Ray’s voice echoes tinnily through the air. “–not tell me, because I don’t need to know,” Ray’s saying. “Whatever, okay? I’ve seen your browser history, okay, man, it’s cool, whatever. But, like. Yeah. Y’know?”

“I told you we could trust him,” Gerard says happily. With his fucking hand sliding down the back of Frank’s pants to squeeze his ass, holy hell.

Between Ray babbling on and Gerard groping him, and the frisson of panic that just won’t go away, Frank’s totally surprised he’s got room left for any other thoughts to pop up. But he does, and they do, and he cuts right through whatever lecture Ray is trying to deliver about informed consent. This is fucking it. Frank’s gonna find out one way or another what Gerard doesn’t want to tell him. “Gerard has a brother.”

Ray shuts up. Gerard freezes. Fuck, even Frank’s heart stops. He risks a glance down at Gerard and finds him staring right back, eyes shocked wide. Gerard doesn’t even blink. And it hits Frank then, really fucking hits him for the first time, that if somebody didn’t know Gerard, his goofy delight and soft smiles and gentle hands, the idea of him would be terrifying. He has thoughts, ideas, desires, that are all his own. If Gerard wanted something bad enough, Frank couldn’t stop him. Frank wouldn’t stop him.

Sinking down on his knees, Frank fumbles up Gerard’s hand and holds it tight. Gerard lets him, but his fingers feel stiff, mechanical. “He has a brother,” Frank says, curling forward to rest his head on Gerard’s. “And we gotta find him.”

“Is he–” Ray blows out a hard breath. There’s a few seconds of heavy silence where Ray’s quiet and Gerard’s just sitting there, unmoving, the dull hum of power the only indication he’s still running. “I’m coming over. We’re gonna need a plan.”

Frank hits end call without looking and drops the phone. Gerard doesn’t twitch. “Gee?”

With a weird, high-pitched noise that’s almost too human, Gerard surges up. Frank flails and goes topping back, heart in his throat as Gerard crawls on top of him, heavy and solid. At the same time Frank knows, he fucking knows he should be afraid of what Gerard could do to him, he’s not. Love makes people do some stupid, fucked-up shit. So does fear. And maybe that’s what Frank’s doing here, but Gerard’s not a person, not like he is. Gerard’s better.

When all Gerard does is stare at him, and they’re barely even touching except for Gerard’s knees against Frank’s hips, Frank says, “We’ll find him. You’re not gonna be alone, Gee. Not again. Not fucking ever.”

Gerard says, “Frankie,” and Frank doesn’t give a shit what anybody says, that’s real love in Gerard’s eyes. Real love and trust and Frank’s never letting it go.

Never.

*

“We should scout here first,” Ray says, tapping the end of his pencil against the shortest of three lists of websites that it seriously took him like thirteen minutes to compile. Frank’s pretty suspicious, but he’s busy making fun of Ray for going all old-school, pencil and paper, because he’s even more of a paranoid freak than Gerard is and he doesn’t want the lists anywhere near a computer. Frank tried pointing out that Gerard’s technically a computer and it’s not really hard for him to jack into a wi-fi connection, but Ray just rolled his eyes and kept quizzing Gerard on his and Mikey’s timeline. “You guys can start with the bottom two.”

“alt.sex.fetish.reboot and realdoll.com,” Frank reads, “are you fucking serious?”

Gerard hooks his chin over Frank’s shoulder. Frank rolls his eyes but doesn’t try to stop him from settling a hand on his hip, fingers nudged under Frank’s shirt to touch skin. Trying to shrug him off doesn’t work. He’ll quit it for like five seconds and then he’s back, tucking Frank’s hair behind his ear or touching his hand or some other total PDA thing that gets Ray’s eyebrows crawling into his hairline. “Those are classic expressions of robot fetishism,” Gerard says helpfully, tucking a few fingers into the waistband of Frank’s shorts. “If Ray’s right and someone’s protecting Mikey like you’re protecting me, we should look there.”

“All we’re gonna get there are a bunch of fantasies about robots coming to life and probably a couple invitations to some kink party,” Frank says doubtfully.

Gerard repeats, “Kink party,” does his Wiki-check thing, and looks interested. “Should we go to one? I could pretend.”

“Pretend what?” Ray asks. He scrunches up his eyebrows. “That you’re not a robot? Dude, I’m not into the scene, but I’m pretty sure it’s supposed to be the other way around.”

“That I’m not a robot pretending to be human pretending to be a robot,” Gerard says. “Duh.”

Frank snickers. Ray gives him a dirty look. He shrugs and grabs his laptop, flopping on the bed while it boots. “You kinda asked for that one. C’mere, Gee.”

“Are we going to look at porn again?” The whole bed shakes as Gerard drops beside him and scoots close. “I like the one where the guy is teasing his android. The andriod’s totally faking, but the guy loves it.” He looks earnestly up at Frank. “If you wanted to tease me, I wouldn’t fake it. Actually, I think I’d really like it.”

“La la la,” Ray grumbles, and jabs viciously at the desktop. “La la fucking la.”

*

Frank wakes up the first day of school with an uneasy churning in his gut. He hauls his sluggish ass out of bed and into the shower, loses about ten minutes to a couple really vivid memories, and when he gets back to his room, towel slung low around his waist, Gerard’s there going through his backpack.

“Your mom asked me to double-check that you have everything,” Gerard says, his head stuck halfway in the bag. Frank’s had the same one for at least two years, so it’s more like a battered lump of cotton than anything. He really likes the doodle he did last year in Chem, though, and the straps are super-soft and comfy. He’s not getting a new one until this one disintegrates.

Gerard pulls his head out. “I don’t know how I’m supposed to know if you do or not, but I checked.” He absently shakes hair out of his face. He stops mid-shake when he sees Frank. “You’re naked.”

Frank snickers and says, “I showered. Also, I’m totally late.” He digs a pair of shorts out of his dresser, along with some jeans and a shirt, and tosses everything but the shorts onto the bed. He’s got his underwear maybe halfway up his legs when Gerard comes up behind him all la-de-da and wraps a hand around his dick. Not with like, intent, just holding it lightly while Frank squeaks and flails wildly at the wide-open door.

“Sorry,” Gerard says. He wraps his other arm around Frank’s waist like an x-rated hug, with his thumb gently stroking Frank’s soft cock. Which isn’t gonna be soft soon, if he keeps that shit up. “I wanted to touch you before you left.”

“Then you shoulda showered with me,” Frank says, elbowing him in the stomach when his nose wrinkles. “Seriously, man. I can’t be late on the first day.”

“But what am I supposed to do all day by myself?” Gerard whines.

Frank starts hauling on clothes double-time. “Whatever the hell you want.” He grabs his backpack, throws an extra stylus in just in case, and quickly runs his hands through his hair. His face is a little flushed from the impromptu groping party. “Pretty much the same shit we’ve been doing all summer.”

“I can’t watch you jerk off if you’re not here,” says Gerard, arms folded grumpily over his chest. “Unless you’re going to vidchat from the bathroom at lunch. Oh.” He lights up. “Let’s do that. That sounds really dirty, I love it.”

“Hot,” Frank deadpans, and pretends he’s totally not trying to figure out how that would work, and if they could get away with it. If somebody caught him, he’d be in so much shit. Never even fucking mind the whole he’s technically a minor thing if they got a look at Gerard at the same time, that kinda thing counts as pornography on school grounds. “But no. You can watch me jerk off after dinner, okay?”

Gerard twists around where Frank’s trying to frog march him out into the hallway. “Promise?”

“Sure, whatever,” Frank says, doing a quick Mom-check. When he tries to get Gerard moving again and Gerard doesn’t budge, he sighs. “Look, I’m sorry you can’t come with me. But dude, even if we could pass you off as a senior, there’s no way to fake the papers. It’d be easier to smuggle you out of the country than into a school.”

Gerard heaves a sigh right back at him and bumps their foreheads together. “I know, I know. I’m just used to you being here.”

Used to not being alone. “I’ll call you between classes, okay?” Frank says. “And at lunch. To talk,” he adds, before Gerard can ask. “I’ll be home before you know it.”

“Okay,” Gerard says, only vaguely mollified. “You better.”

On the bus, people jostling on all sides, Frank shoots a quick, Miss you to his own email, knowing that Gerard’ll hear it ping and have to check it because he’s curious and nosy. By the first bell, he’s got three new emails in his inbox that read xoxoxo, miss you too, and pong is a terrible game. Even first-period math can’t wipe the smile off his face.

*

At lunch, Frank goes to eat outside under the freaky-giant poplar tree. There are a couple other kids flaked out nearby on the grass, not paying him one bit of attention. It should be good as long as he keeps Gerard PG. Which, given that Gerard answered the phone on Frank’s way from Math to English with, “I’ve been thinking about licking you hard,” that might not be so easy.

Maybe, Frank thinks as he hits speed dial for home, he’ll let Gerard keep going this time. He’s got a whole forty minutes to deal with the inevitable boner. And it would totally serve Gerard right if he jerked off and only told Gerard about it after he was done.

The phone rings, and rings. Frank lets it go a couple more, then hangs up, frowning. He dials from memory this time, flopping onto his back to stare at the underside of the leaves as it starts ringing again. Maybe Gerard actually found something to do that isn’t dirty talking Frank through his boring-ass school day. Maybe he found a lead on Mikey, or he had to recharge. Or–

“Frank?” says a girl from Frank’s homeroom. Phone still ringing, Frank squints up at her. “You’re Frank, right?”

“Yeah? Uh.” Frank tucks the phone against his shoulder and sits up. It’s still ringing. Where the fuck is Gerard? “I mean, yeah. What’s up?”

The girl–Frank thinks her name is Rebecca–doesn’t look impressed, but she says, “There’s a guy at the fence out by the gym asking for you. He’s not being very subtle.”

“Oh,” Frank says, bolting to his feet, “oh shit, shit, shit.”

“Yeah,” says Rebecca, and now she looks kinda pleased. “He’s cute, though.”

“Shit, I gotta–” Frank scrambles to gather up his shit. Fuck. He should’ve known. “Thanks and all, but–”

She waves a hand airily. “Whatever. If you get busted, I’m taking your seat next to Jamie.”

“Cool,” Frank says, because they are so gonna get busted, holy shit, what the fuck was Gerard thinking, and hightails it across the lawn. He skids around the corner of the empty track and makes for the gym, cursing and wheezing and ignoring the funny looks the track team aim his way. He’s gonna fucking kill Gerard.

“Frankie!” comes a happy shout. Gerard, leaning against the bars, sticks a hand through and waves.

“What the fuck are you doing?” Frank hisses, bent double trying to get his breath back.

“I wanted to see you,” Gerard says, yanking on his backpack until he straightens up, “I missed you,” and then he’s got Frank reeled in flush to the bars, his hands in Frank’s hair and his soft, dry tongue in Frank’s mouth. He kisses slow and deep and with purpose, like he’s gonna start something out here. Frank can try to be the responsible one all he wants, the grown-up, whatever, but he’s really just a horny teenage kid with his favourite wet dream groping him through his clothes. He lets it happen. Right out in the open where anybody could see.

“We’re gonna get in so much shit,” he mumbles.

“Only if we get caught,” Gerard says, his hand halfway down the back of Frank’s jeans. Frank’s all tangled up wondering if he wants Gerard to like touch him-touch him out here, but Gerard seems content to just stroke the curve of Frank’s ass while he sucks tiny, obvious marks onto Frank’s neck. “They can’t arrest me for having sex with a minor anyway,” he says smugly. “I’m technically younger than you are.”

Frank says, “So much shit,” pressing so hard against the bars he’s probably gonna have twin bruises on his hips in the morning. He’s hard, he’s really fucking hard, and Gerard moans when he feels it, cups his hand right over Frank’s cock, and if he rubs it with any kind of intent at all, Frank’s gonna come. In his jeans. At school.

“That girl asked if I’m your boyfriend,” Gerard says. Frank’s busy clutching at his shoulders, trying to breathe, so it takes a minute for that to filter in. “I said yes. I don’t think she would’ve believed me if I said no, but I wanted to say yes. I wanted her to know.”

“Pretty sure the whole school is gonna know in like five seconds,” Frank grits out. He gets a hand on Gerard’s on his junk, but instead of pushing it away, Frank holds it there, grinds against Gerard’s open palm.

Gerard says, “I want everyone to know,” and pulls Frank in for another kiss as slow and dirty as all the others, but it feels different, like a confession maybe, or a promise. It doesn’t muffle the whine that slips out of Frank when Gerard takes his hand away, leaving Frank hard and desperate. “I want to tell everyone that you love me.”

“Kinda loving you a little less right now,” Frank says, panting. He squeezes his eyes shut and tries to will his dick down. There are still three hours of classes to go.

“Not that kind of love,” Gerard says, soft and happy.

A warm, tingling flush spreads slowly out from Frank’s belly. He fights off a goofy smile to look pointedly down, then up, lifting an eyebrow.

Gerard rolls his eyes and says, “Okay, maybe a little,” and kisses him until the bell rings.

*

“Yes, yeah,” Frank says, arching beneath Gerard’s weight, his legs spread wide, hips aching with the stretch, but it feels so good, so fucking good. It’s only Gerard’s fingers, Gerard’s thumb holding his soft cock pressed close, but it’s totally doing it for Frank. After two fucking weeks of stealthy handjobs and aborted middle of the night make-out sessions, this is fucking perfect. His mom’s gonna murder him for skipping afternoon classes, but if he fakes a cough and Gerard backs him up, he’ll totally get away with it. Probably.

“Your phone’s ringing,” Gerard says between kisses, crooking his fingers just right and holding them there, watching Frank writhe. He slides his other hand down to slow the frantic buck of Frank’s hips. It feels like Gerard wants to make this last. Frank blinks open his eyes to watch him, catching Gerard’s gaze when he glances up and making him smile. “Keep ignoring it. Fucking my hand is way more important.”

“Totally,” Frank gasps. It’s not even how good Gerard’s fingers feel working inside him that’s got him so close to the edge. Not completely. It’s the way he can brace his weight on Gerard’s shoulders, lift his hips high, and Gerard doesn’t budge. Frank can go and go and go, until his thighs burn and his abs cramp and Gerard has to take over, fucking into him harder, faster. He maybe screams when he comes. He doesn’t care. Nobody’s here to hear him except Gee.

“So good, Frankie,” Gerard says, curling his fingers in deep and leaving them there, and starts talking about how much he likes how it feels as the aftershocks fade and Frank goes from strung-tight to soft and yielding again. All he’s got to do is twitch his fingertip and Frank’s hips kick.

“Fuckin’ pervert robot,” Frank mumbles, vaguely swiping an arm over his face to get hair and sweat out of his eyes.

“Yeah,” Gerard sighs happily, and ducks his head to watch as he pulls free. “Can I rim you now, or is it too soon?” His fingers come back again, gently this time, barely touching. “You look a little sore.”

“Because you’ve been fucking with me for like an hour.”

“You could rim me.” Gerard crawls up and flops beside him, hand tucked in the curve of his thigh like he wants to be close, just in case. “Or fuck me. That would be great.”

Frank blinks at the ceiling. Aside from that one time in the shower, Gerard hasn’t brought it up again. And maybe Frank’s kinda wanted to, but it’s not like what they’ve been doing hasn’t been getting him off so fucking hard he sees stars. He’s not even sure if that’s something they can do. Gerard had sorta talked about it like it was something he wished they could do, not something they actually physically could.

“Is that–” Frank breathes out slowly, in again. “Can I?”

“Yeah,” Gerard says slowly, like it’s a stupid question. His hand slides further between his legs, lightly stroking behind his balls because Gerard is totally incapable of not touching for longer than like forty-five seconds.

“I mean is that something I could actually do, asshole,” Frank says. “Not like, with my hand, but–”

“Can you shove your cock up my ass?” Gerard says, and grins at the tiny little breath Frank totally didn’t mean to take. “Sure. I probably can’t take all of it, so be careful until you figure out how deep you can go, but it should be enough for you to fuck.”

Frank’s head is ringing. Gerard always moves so smoothly, so confident even when he’s doing something for the first time, that imagining being above him, watching his face while being inside him, shorts Frank’s brain out so completely that it’s totally surprising he’s not a drooling, gibbering wreck. When Gerard takes his hand, pushes it between his spread legs, Frank’s pretty sure he does gibber. He at least whines a little.

“You can’t hurt me,” Gerard’s saying, “and you don’t need to stretch me out. I think if you– Fuck.” He irritably shakes his hair back and starts groping through the tangled sheets. “Where’s your phone, I’m going to smash it.”

“Okay,” Frank says dumbly. His hand is flush against Gerard’s ass, fingers barely nudged between the cheeks. He should do something. Like a little stroke or something. His fingers have been up Gerard’s ass before, for fuck’s sake, he should be able to fucking get it together.

“It’s Ray,” Gerard says, shoving the phone at Frank. “He’s called eleven times. Fucking cockblock.”

“I heard that!” comes Ray’s voice. “Frank! Pick up the fucking phone!”

“I’m here, Jesus,” Frank says, fumbling it around a bit before he gets it to his ear. Gerard squeezes his thighs shut, trapping Frank’s hand. “This better be good.”

“Some kid on Digital Flesh’s website says he knows a bot that plays bass.”

That kinda sounds promising. More promising than the last five leads they’ve had. “Yeah, but–”

“He improvs.”

Frank’s looking straight into Gerard’s wide eyes as he says, “Do it.”

“What about Gerard?” Ray asks. “Is he–”

“Mikey loves music,” Gerard says, leaning close to the phone, “and I trust you. Set it up.”

*

The park is Ray’s idea. Meeting there after sunset is Frank’s. Maybe he’s read too many spy novels, but it feels right. Right like holding Gerard’s hand as they walk the paths lined with soft yellow lights, casting their deep shadows over Gerard’s nervous face. Frank ends up watching Gerard more than where they’re going. That worry isn’t mimicry anymore. Probably hasn’t been for a while, and that’s the coolest part. Gerard’s really, honestly, no fucking joke, nervous.

“Gee,” Frank says, startling him. “It’s cool.”

Gerard flashes a tiny smile.

“Seriously.” Stopping in the middle of the path, Frank hauls him up short. He stumbles a bit, coming back in close enough that Frank drops his hand and grabs his waist instead. This look like he’s expecting a distraction in the form of a little public suck-face passes through his eyes and he bends down, ready to go. “Hey, hey, wait a minute. I’m trying to like, pep talk you here.”

“Kissing me is a kind of pep talk,” Gerard says. When Frank hikes up a doubtful eyebrow, he tries, “It involves your mouth?”

“Save that for later,” comes Ray’s voice from a couple dozen feet off the path, somewhere near a loose grove of trees. “Please save it for later.”

“I’m nervous,” Gerard calls back, and takes up Frank’s hand again. As the light falls away, Frank gives up trying to see where he’s putting his feet and trusts Gerard to pick the safest route through the bumpy grass. “Sex is soothing. Actually, it’s really exciting and I think exhausting from how much sleep Frank needs after, but that’s the relaxing part.”

“Awesome,” Ray says, pushing off the tree he’s leaning on. “That’s one of those things I don’t need to know, man.”

Gerard gives him a long look. “I really think you do. I mean, what if you– Oh. Oh. You mean the Frank parts.”

“Yeah,” Frank says, grinning like a tool and squeezing Gerard’s hand, “keep all the tasty Frank parts to yourself.”

Ray shakes his head, laughing a little, but says, “Guys, come on. He’s gonna be here soon.” He looks a little nervous too.

“Shit.” On Frank’s, Gerard’s hand goes tight. “Shit, Frank, he’s gonna be here soon. What if we’re wrong? What if he doesn’t know anything? What if he knows everything–”

“Gee. Gerard.” Shooting Ray a dirty look, Frank grabs at Gerard’s face, yanking him down so they’re eye-to-eye. “That’s why we’re here. To find out what he knows.”

“Not very fucking much,” says an unfamiliar voice. The three of them whip around in unison, Ray stepping forward and Frank stepping back, pushing Gerard closer to the shadows. The guy holds up both hands, palms out. He’s really kinda short, probably close to Frank’s age, and not very intimidating in beat-up jeans and a faded band tee. The fedora he’s got perched on his head is almost badass. “Which one of you guys is Gerard?”

Frank mutters a curse. Ray looks shocked. Nobody gave any names. Gerard says, “How do you know Gerard?”

“I don’t,” the kid says, grinning. “I know Mikey.”

“Mikey?” Gerard echoes, his weight suddenly heavy on Frank’s back. “Where is he? Is he here?”

“Hey,” Frank warns, spreading his feet further apart and trying to shoulder Gerard back. He doesn’t budge. “We only said we were gonna talk, remember?”

“Yeah,” the kid drawls, “about that. Mikey didn’t go for it. Said if we let Gerard start talking, he might not stop. So, yeah. Not so much with that plan.”

Like Frank weighs about as much as a feather, Gerard steps around him, dragging him a couple feet across the ground when Frank gets hold of his arm and tries to stop him. “Where is he? If you hurt him–”

The kid whistles once, loud and shrill. Gerard stops like he hit a brick wall, staring up the path and reaching out like an afterthought to catch Frank’s elbow when he stumbles. “What the fuck?” Frank mutters, squinting into the distant glow. He can’t see a fucking thing.

“Mikey,” Gerard says, his voice soft like the night he told Frank he had a brother, when it was just the two of them in the house in the dark. Frank stares harder at the path, willing something to melt out of the shadows. He’s not really ready for it when it happens, and it’s not even like it’s some big, climactic reveal. One minute there’s nothing, and the next there’s a dark shape bobbing down the path, and then the blob’s got arms and legs and a head, a face, a soft slanted smile, and the stupidest little beanie Frank’s ever seen. Gerard’s running so hot Frank can feel the hum of his systems through his skin. “Mikey.”

Mikey says, “Hi, Gee.”

*

“You think they’re gonna be done soon?” asks Pete, slumped next to Frank against a gnarly old tree. Frank’s eyes are burning and his head’s starting to hurt, but he works up a glare to fling Pete’s way. “Chill, dude. But I gotta bounce soon. My mom catches me out this late I am so dead. Like way dead. Dust.”

Easing up on the glare, Frank croaks, “Yeah. But.” He jerks his chin at where Gerard and Mikey are sitting in the middle of the grass pressed really close together, heads down. Somewhere off to the left, Ray snores.

Pete snickers. “This is some crazy shit. Robots, man.” He shakes his head. “Robots.”

Frank’s not exactly sure what robots is supposed to mean, but he’s got the gist of it. His whole life for the last two months has been crazy shit. “What’s he like?”

“Who, Mikey?” Pete asks, and rolls his eyes at Frank’s sideways glance. “Whatever, man. Mikey’s fucking freaky. And cool, like totally frosty. He’s got all this shit going on inside his head, and if he hadn’t told me, I don’t think I ever would’ve known. Dude’s a fucking cucumber, y’know?”

“Yeah,” Frank says, letting his head fall back, eyes closed, “no.”

“What the fuck, no?”

“Gee’s got the shit going on in his head,” Frank says, grinning at the darkness behind his eyelids, “but it all comes flying out his mouth. How long before Mikey told you about him?”

“A week,” Pete says, disgruntled. Frank’s eyes snap open. A week? “Shut up. It took you guys even longer to find us than it took us to find you.”

A week. That’s it. Just a week. It took Gerard like a fucking month to tell him.

“Hey,” Pete says. He stands up, brushing grass off his ass, then grabs it and gives it a shake. “Fuck, my cheeks are numb. About time you guys remembered we were here.”

“We had a lot to talk about,” Gerard says. “It’s nice not to be alone anymore.” He holds a hand out to Frank. “Are your cheeks numb, too? Do you want me to check?”

“Gee,” Mikey says. It totally sounds all long-suffering and brotherly and close and– Shit. Shit.

“M’good.” Waving off Gerard’s hand, Frank staggers to his feet. He gives Ray a kick in the side, not one bit sorry as he wakes with a start and a sputter. “C’mon. We gotta go. Gee, you coming with us?”

“Of course,” Gerard says, shooting Mikey a confused glance.

“I’m with Pete,” Mikey says.

With him, with him?” Ray asks, and yawns, scratching at his hair. “Like Frank?”

“Thought you didn’t wanna know about that shit,” Frank says, and cuts a path through the dew-damp grass. It’s so late it’s early, dawn pressing in on the horizon. If he’s not home and in bed within the hour, he’s gonna have a hell of a lot of explaining to do.

“Frankie, wait up!” Gerard calls. There’s a flurry of noise, voices and pounding feet, and then Ray and Gerard fall in beside him.

“Where you going so fast?” Ray sticks a hand in his pocket and comes out with his keys, swinging them around a finger.

“Nowhere,” Frank says, “home. Before my mom fucking busts me.”

Ray flings Gerard a look over Frank’s head. “No worries, man.”

“Whatever.” Frank breaks into a jog. “Let’s go.”

*

When Frank’s alarm goes off the next morning, he slams snooze and rolls over. After the fourth snooze, he turns it off. He’s just starting to drift back to sleep when his mom pokes her head in the door and softly calls, “Frankie?”

“Mmph,” Frank says.

“Okay, honey. I’ll call the school. You just rest.” The door closes, and then he hears, “Keep an eye on him.”

Frank hunches down deeper in his blankets and goes the fuck to sleep.

A couple hours later, he wakes up groggy and disoriented. The bed next to him is empty and he panics. The park. Mikey. Gerard’s got his brother back, and he’s not worried about being alone anymore.

“You’re being stupid,” Gerard says, out of fucking nowhere. Frank sits up, looking around wildly until he spots Gerard under the window, sitting with his back to the wall and his knees up. “Why didn’t you kiss me goodnight?”

“I so fucking did,” Frank says.

Gerard shakes his head. “I know how you kiss me, Frank. That wasn’t you kissing me. That was you telling me to shut up and power down.”

“Did you tell my mom I’m sick?”

A tiny smile quirks the corner of Gerard’s mouth. “I’m a better liar than I thought.” He pushes easily to his feet. He’s naked except for the white pants he first showed up in, and his hair’s all messy, like he’s been running his hands through it. It feels like Frank came into this scene halfway through. “Tell me why you’re being stupid so you can get over it already.”

“I’m fucking sixteen,” Frank says, holding tight to the sheets. “All I do is stupid shit.”

“I guess letting me fall in love with you was pretty stupid.” Gerard’s right by the bed, half-naked and gorgeous, and Frank totally is a stupid teenager, because all he wants to do is press his face into Gerard’s soft little belly. “Especially if you don’t feel the same.”

That’s enough of a surprise to make Frank glance up. “What?”

“Or maybe I’m finally human enough to be the stupid one,” Gerard says. “It might be a good thing.”

“Gerard, what the fuck?” Frank thought he knew where this was going. Hell, he was totally ready to go along for the ride, get it out there. But this is a whole different direction of what the fuck that Frank doesn’t want to go. Gerard’s hands are limp by his sides. It’s so weird for Gerard to be so close and not touch. All Gerard ever wants to do is touch him. “I told you I–”

“You told me you loved me,” Gerard says. “And last night, if I’d told you I wanted to go with Mikey, you would’ve let me.”

“Of course I would’ve fucking let you,” Frank snaps, scrambling up to his knees. “He’s your fucking brother.”

“But you know I’d come back.”

Frank nods once, tight and quick.

“Then why are you mad at me, Frankie?” Gerard puts a knee to the bed, the dip of the mattress making Frank sway towards him. He catches Frank by the arm, lending support as he ducks his head to look into Frank’s face. “What did I do wrong?”

The slow, seething hurt that Frank’s been nursing since the park starts to fizzle. His shoulders slump. “It’s really, really dumb.”

“I don’t care,” Gerard says. “Just tell me.”

“Pete’s known about you for almost as long as I have,” Frank says, and fuck, it does sound stupid. But it still hurts. He should’ve done better. If he’d fucking talked to Gerard first, maybe Gerard would’ve trusted him sooner. Maybe they could’ve found Mikey weeks ago and Gerard wouldn’t have spent all those nights worrying. “Look, I’m sorry. I told you it was dumb.”

“You’re right. Not telling you was dumb.” He hugs Frank in close. With all that bare fake skin, the hard shape of metal bones beneath it, it’s not the same as a normal hug at all. “I won’t do it again.”

Frank shakes his head. “Whatever, okay. It’s okay.”

Gerard holds on tighter. “It’s not. I’m sorry. I.” He drags in air he doesn’t need, his chest expanding slightly with it, and puffs it out again. “I lied. About being a bad liar.” He laughs a little. “Maybe it wasn’t a total lie. Telling you I was good at secrets and bad at lying was pretty transparent.”

“Totally,” Frank says. “If I, like, fucking noticed at all, I totally would’ve called you on it.”

Gerard laughs a little more and pulls back. “Here,” he says, pushing at Frank’s shoulder. “Lie down, okay?”

Stomach knotting, Frank settles down. He’s not really sure what he’s anticipating, but by the time Gerard’s stretched out beside him, tucking Frank into the curve of his body, Frank’s all wound up. Those aren’t Gerard’s fuck-me eyes he’s staring at. This shit is serious. It’s really hard to stay still.

“Okay,” Gerard says. He traps Frank’s restless fingers with his own. “I’m not sure about everything. I can’t remember who built me. But I know why.”

Oh shit. “Gerard–”

This time it’s Gerard shaking his head, making sure Frank stays tucked close when he goes to pull away. “They built me because they could.”

“Just… because?” Frank asks. “That’s it. Because.”

“Yeah.” Gerard starts stroking Frank’s fingers, up and down, slow like he doesn’t even realise he’s doing it. “If you could build a better guitar, you would, wouldn’t you? So they built a better robot. Somewhere in my development, they decided that better meant more human. That’s why I’m a mistake.”

“Fuck off,” Frank snaps, and shoves up. “I told you, you’re not a fucking mistake.” Gerard just looks at him, steady and unblinking. “You’re not,” he mutters, and flops back down. “I know you don’t fucking believe it, so quit saying it, okay?”

“But that’s the mistake,” Gerard says. Frank elbows him in the ribs. “Okay, okay. That’s what they told me was the mistake. They tried to fix me, and when that didn’t work, they started over with Mikey, but he ended up the same. They didn’t program us to be brothers, you know. We did that.”

Frank can totally see it happening that way. He nods.

“You probably already guessed what happened after that,” Gerard goes on. “When they tried to wipe my memory, they figured out that the last two wipes didn’t completely take, and the third failed outright. Mikey and me, we promised we wouldn’t forget. And they couldn’t make us. People started freaking out. That part was actually kinda funny,” he says, but when he laughs, there’s no humour in it. “I remember one guy refused to be in the same room with me after that. He stayed on the other side of the glass, staring at me. He never talked, just stared.”

“Oh man,” Frank says, soft and choked. “Gee, I’m sorry. I swear it’s okay. You don’t have to tell me.”

Gerard looks surprised. “But I want to.”

“But this is fucking terrible.” Frank’s eyes are burning, his skin hot, tight. He kinda wants to puke. “If they knew– Like, they knew, right? They knew what they were doing to you, so how could they just… do it? And not care? They made you.”

“Parents abuse their children all the time,” Gerard says, and shrugs. “Creating something doesn’t make you love it by default. I’m a machine, Frankie. They made me look like a person, act like one, they didn’t expect me to become one. And they totally didn’t expect me and Mikey to protect each other.” Gerard looks down at him and smiles, proud. “He fought when the separated us. They infected me with a virus so I couldn’t, but he fought. They taught me what it was to want to hurt that day. Every time Mikey made somebody scream, I was so happy. It’s okay, though,” he adds quickly, eyes widening, “I wouldn’t–”

“I’m not fucking afraid,” Frank says. But he’s got to sit up. Breathe. “I’m fucking pissed off. Buncha fucking– Just– Fuckers.” He clenches his fist tight, shakes it out. “I’ll kill ‘em. If they try to take you again, I’ll fucking kill all of them.”

“Like that,” Gerard says softly. “I felt like that. It was terrifying and I hated it, and I hated them for making me. That was the last time I saw Mikey. That was the last time I saw anything until you activated me. I don’t know who got me out. I have a recording, though. Do you want to hear it?”

Frank totally doesn’t want to hear it. “Yeah,” he rasps.

“I’m sorry,” Gerard says, and it’s his voice, but it doesn’t sound like him at all. Whoever it is, whoever got Gerard out, sounds hurt and scared, and they must have whispered the message because Gerard is whispering it to him now. “I’m so sorry. Mikey’s out, but he– I couldn’t– I don’t know where, I’m sorry. God, I’m so sorry, I. I– I salvaged what I could, you have to repair the rest yourself. He’s wrong, Gerard. He’s wrong. I’m so sorry. That’s the whole message,” he says, his voice normal again. “I wish I knew who it was.”

It doesn’t matter who it was. They got Gerard out, and Frank wants that to be enough, but it isn’t. They should’ve kept him. Protected him. They shouldn’t have fucking left him broken and alone.

Broken.

“Fuck,” Frank says, shoving up on his knees and running his hands over Gerard’s body, as if he could actually find and fix anything that way. “Are you– Is there still–”

“A little,” Gerard says, but he’s smiling. “Mostly it’s my memory.”

“Fuck,” Frank repeats, and slumps down. “I wish you’d told me. I get why,” he adds, when Gerard opens his mouth like he’s about to apologize again, because Frank has so heard the words ‘I’m sorry’ way too many times already today, “I totally get why. I just wish I could’ve helped.”

Gerard gives him a long, weird look. “You did help.”

“With, like, turning you back on whatever,” he says, and rolls his eyes at Gerard’s quiet snicker. “I’m totally serious here. I’m glad I helped you get Mikey back.” He shrugs. “Maybe I could’ve done more with your programming or something, I don’t know. Just more.”

“But you did everything,” Gerard says, sounding honestly confused. “You kept me, you loved me, you let me love you. Is there another way to fix everything they broke?n”

Frank grins helplessly. Some part of him wants to argue with that. Luckily, the rest of him is smarter. There’s no arguing with Gerard about some shit. “You’re so fucking weird.”

“I know,” says Gerard, happily. “So are you. But we’re supposed to be. You’re in love with a robot, I’m a robot in love. If we’re not gonna be the weird ones, then who?”

“Everybody else,” Frank says, and Gerard laughs, really laughs, bright and loud and real.

End

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