Midgets and Madmen Run This Scene

Gerard Way/Frank Iero. Prison AU. Contains scenes of violence, off-screen/aborted dubcon, drug abuse, and a ridiculous marshmallow core. NC-17. ~29,000 words.
How assholes in prison fall in love.

Frank is minding his own fucking business, enjoying the last drag of his shitty stale smoke, when the guy comes stumbling around the corner. Behind the stringy hair clinging to his face, his eyes are wide, scared-shitless wide, juiced-out-of-his-head wide. Franks spits, “Motherfucker,” as the guy tumbles into him, nearly taking one of those too-wide eyes out on the cherry.

“Sorry,” the guy slurs, grabbing onto Frank to stay upright, a thumb almost shoved into Frank’s mouth, “sorry, I got,” then hits the dirt on his knees like somebody cut his strings.

“Frankie,” Henderson says, sauntering up to the imaginary border of Frank’s shaded sanctuary. He jerks his chin at the guy clinging to Frank’s leg. “You wanna give that a kick back over my way?”

Frank eyeballs his smoke, wondering if he can eke out another puff. “You sure you want it?”

Henderson barks out a mean laugh, the kind of laugh that promises shit Frank’s in no mood to see. “He’s good for another couple rounds yet. Got him the good stuff this time. Check it out.” He gives the guy a jab in the ribs with one foot. The guy whines and curls closer to Frank’s leg, breathing hard for a couple beats before he starts pawing sloppily at Frank’s crotch.

“What the fuck,” Frank says, kneeing the guy off.

Henderson grins, vicious and satisfied. “Got him trained good. Want a go?”

The guy in the scraggly grass stares up at Frank with glassy eyes. His eyebrows are drawn tight, lips pursed, like there’s shit going on here he doesn’t get, and it sure as fuck isn’t the same shit Frank’s not getting. He looks like he’s trying to figure out if Frank’s worth the fucking effort.

“C’mon, bitch,” Henderson says, hauling the guy up by a fistful of dirty hair. The guy makes this noise like a pup that’s been belted one too many times, resigned and weirdly shocked. He sags in Henderson’s grip, still staring at Frank’s face. There’s this fucked up longing in his eyes. Like maybe, if he’s fucking pathetic enough, he thinks Frank’ll help him out here.

Or could be he’s just craving a shot of nicotine to go on top of whatever shit’s already cruising through his blood.

“Shouldn’t,” the guy says, propping a hand on Henderson’s chest to hold himself up, “’cause, perpetrating degradation of, like, through language,” and Henderson says, “Shut the fuck up for once,” and drags the guy back out into the sunlight.

“Jesus,” Frank says.


“Hey, hey, baby,” Park coos over the patter of water on tile, his hand held out to the wasted dude from yesterday like a gentleman helping his lady out of a car, “c’mere, sweetheart. I’ll treat you right.”

A round of half-interested chuckles go up. Frank rolls his eyes and dumps a glob of shampoo into his palm. When he first got in here, he thought this was the kind of shit that came out of Hollywood’s ass. But nobody busts in to put a stop to Park shoving the guy down, or from grabbing up a fistful of hair to rub his crotch all over the guy’s face, so what the fuck does he know.

“Wait,” the guy gasps, scrabbling for a handhold on Park’s wet hairy thighs, “wait, don’t, fuck, I don’t feel so good.”

“Not that fucking pussy shit again,” Henderson says, cuffing the back of the guy’s head. “You shut up and take it where he wants to stick it.”

The guy sucks in a shuddering breath, says, “No, I,” and flinches back when Park lifts a beefy hand. He’s hanging rag-doll limp by his hair, soaked and shivering and seriously, he fucking looks wrecked in a bad way. He sure as fuck doesn’t look like something Frank would want on his dick.

“He tweaking again?”

Henderson barks out another one of those grating laughs. “Knew you were interested, Iero!” He grabs the guy by one wrist, a shallow whimper echoing off the tile as he’s ripped out of Park’s grip, and shoves him down in a pale, pathetic sprawl. The guy’s breathing hard and fast, shoulders shaking. “Hasn’t sobered up since he got here. Don’t think he knows his own fucking name.” Another whimper answers the heel Henderson drills into his side. Henderson laughs. “Fuck, I don’t know his name.”

“Gerard,” the guy croaks, and somebody mutters something that sends up another raucous chorus of jeers. The guy doesn’t even notice, just struggles up on one arm, head low. “Fuck, I’m gonna– I’m gonna–”

“You’re gonna fucking suck your daddy off,” Henderson snarls, as Park takes hold of Gerard and jerks him around, shoving him face-first at Henderson’s dick.

Gerard hangs there for a minute, Henderson’s half-hard junk pressed into his cheek. Then looks up and says, really clearly, “Sorry,” before he fucking hurls.

Henderson shoves him back, barking, “Jesus, Jesus, fuck,” over and over again, like the poor wasted fuck hadn’t tried to like, fucking warn him. Everybody’s cursing and laughing and Frank’s right there with them, can’t even fucking help it, this guy’s the fucking saddest piece of shit Frank’s seen come through here and he’s sorry. He’s fucking sorry for puking on Henderson’s ugly-ass dick.

“Guess it didn’t look so fucking good to him anymore,” Frank says, and another round goes up, guys fucking shitting themselves laughing as Henderson tries to wash chunks of who the fuck knows what off his crotch.

“Fuckin’ useless piece of trash,” Henderson hisses, fists clenched tight. He flicks a glance at the cameras in the corners, the guards station outside the tiled partitions pretending he’s not hearing any of this crap, mutters, “Not even fucking worth it.” He raises his voice so it booms off the tile walls, bellows, “Free meat, boys! Just fucking gag the shitsucker first.”

Some guys laugh, some snort, but everybody goes back to showering, ignoring Gerard splayed out limply where he fell. His side rises and falls with shallow breaths. Frank grunts and ducks his head under the spray.

A guard raps on the wall a couple minutes later, calls, “Five!” in warning. A small handful of cons head out right away, mostly the ones who care about being first in line for the cafeteria slop. A few more drift out after, the loners, then Henderson’s crowd, other groups of two and three, until Frank’s the only one left behind.

Frank, and Gerard, who hasn’t budged an inch, except for the way he can’t stop shivering.

Frank cranks off the water, grabs a threadbare towel off the rack and scrubs at his hair. Gerard’s pale, junkie-delicate, soft in places and nothing but sharp-edged bone his others, skin smeared in a sick mottle of bruises like fingerpaints. His mouth hangs open as he sucks in one slow breath after another, his lips cracked and sore, his eyes closed, lashes lost against the thick dark bags under his eyes. He twitches at the sound of Frank’s bare feet on wet tile, but doesn’t make a move to get up.

“Jesus,” Frank mutters, and turns to go. On his way past the guard outside, he jerks a thumb over his shoulder, says, “Some guy’s sick or something,” and wonders if there’s gonna be anything even remotely edible on the menu today.


Tuesday, Gerard shows up in Frank’s anger-management group. He’s slumped in a chair, one hand hanging off to the side, the other clutching a crayon scratching at a thin pad of paper caught against his thigh. Sweat glistens on his face, his body heavy and lank as his hair. He looks strung-out and tired and in hardcore need of a hit. Word is he hasn’t gotten one in three days, not since the shit that went down in the shower. Nobody’s touched him since then, either. Henderson might’ve said free meat, but who knows if he actually fucking meant it. Could be he’s teaching his bitch a lesson. Wouldn’t be the first time.

The shrink at the head of the group drones on and on. Frank quit listening to that bullshit his first week in here. He knows he’s got issues. Most times, he’s real good at controlling the rage burbling in his belly. It’s just, sometimes, there are fuckers that don’t deserve his control.

“Gerard?” Dr Bosse prompts gently. It sets Frank’s fucking teeth on edge. Gerard lifts unfocused eyes from his sketchpad. “It’s good that you’ve started drawing again. Art is an excellent way to express emotions.”

“Yeah,” Gerard says, rusty and thick. His gaze shifts sluggishly to Frank. He blinks once, slowly, and says, “Yeah,” again.

Bosse darts a confused glance Frank’s way. Frank shrugs. Like he knows what the fuck is going on in this guy’s head. “May we see?”

Gerard blinks again, still staring straight at Frank. It’s fucking creepy. He says, “Yeah,” one more time, like he doesn’t give a shit either way, and jabs his crayon between his teeth to flip up the pad one-handed. He points it straight at Frank, like Frank’s the one who fucking asked to see his scribbles.

And then Frank actually looks at the fucking drawing. It’s not scribbles. It’s Frank. It’s Frank, hung on a cross, fucking crucified, but upside down, his legs splayed wide and obscene, feet nailed to the arms of the cross, his own arms stretched out high above his head, fingers curved like claws digging into the mound of bones the cross is dug into. His chest is ripped wide open, ribs curved down and out, baring nothing but his heart, grotesque and oversized and what the fucking fuck did Frank ever do to this guy, fucking Christ.

The shrink looks vaguely concerned. Fucking thoughtful, like Gerard’s got a habit of pulling Frank’s pigtails or something, not drawing him ripped open and bleeding. “Okay,” he says, standing up. “Let’s call it a day. Frank, I need you to come with me.”

“Me?” Frank snaps. “Fuck, why not him? He’s got the fucking torture porn!”

Gerard grins, displaying twin rows of tiny, crooked, creepy little teeth.

“Frank,” Dr Bosse says, frowning, deep lines cutting into his sallow cheeks. “We need to discuss this.”

“Yeah, Frank,” Gerard drawls, Jersey dripping from every syllable, “you need to be discussed.”

“Fuck you.” Frank shoves to his feet. Gerard’s gaze slides down, and down, then takes its time crawling back up again. Frank scowls and fights off a shiver. Ladies and gentlemen, this is a genuine psycho right here. “Seriously, man. Fucking fuck you.”

Gerard’s weird slinky smile flips over to a full on grin, low beam to high, just like that. “Okay,” he says, and drops his sketchpad back into his lap, humming happily as he flips to a fresh page.

“That guy belongs in the fucking looney bin,” Frank says.

Not looking up from his paper, Gerard lifts his other hand, twiddling his fingers in a wave. Bosse’s frown lines cut deeper.


The next time Frank lays eyes on Gerard, it’s Friday. The sun’s high and bright but the morning air’s got that bite that says summer’s giving its last hurrah. Frank’s missing whatever slop they’re serving up inside for lunch, but it’s more than worth the hungry grumble of his stomach. He can’t take the fucking walls anymore. The edge of the picnic table digs into his spine, the guard on the fence is giving him the hairy eyeball like he doesn’t trust the con with the hankering for some fresh air, and he’s seriously thinking about fucking himself over entirely by having a nice little nap right here, when somebody’s shadow falls over him. The crazy fucker who owns it says, “Hook me up and I’ll blow you.”

Frank snorts, keeping his chin tucked against his chest. “Seen your idea of a blowjob already. No thanks.”

“I mean it.” Gerard knees Frank’s thigh. “I’ll suck your fucking brains out through your dick. I’ll make you forget your own name. Make you forget your momma’s name.”

“Dude.” Frank tilts his head up, squinting into the sun. “That’s sick, mentioning my momma in the same breath as my dick.”

Gerard grins his freakish little grin, says, “Got your fucking attention,” and drops to his knees right there. “C’mon.”

“You can sit your skinny ass right down on my dick if you want, I ain’t hooking you up.” Frank wiggles his butt against the hard wooden bench like that’ll make it a fraction more comfortable. “Fuck off.”

“Why not?” Gerard asks, sounding like he’s genuinely fucking wondering. “I got you out of group early. You fucking hate group. That’s gotta be worth at least one hit.”

“‘Cause maybe I just don’t fucking like you,” Frank grumbles.

Gerard snorts a giggle. “Lame.”

Frank slouches deeper into his thin jacket, shoulders hiked up around his ears. Bosse had warned him Gerard was gonna track him down. According to the shrink, Gerard is an Enthusiast, which is supposed to be a nice way of saying he gets addicted to anything and everything, and he’s been at it for so fucking long if he’s not fucking addicted to something, his body starts to shut down or some shit like that. Henderson’s made it pretty clear he’s done, so Gerard actually is free meat, and about two days from a free-fall into real crazy.

As much as Frank doesn’t want to see what Bosse thinks is real crazy, he is not this douche’s fucking safety net. “Only thing you’re gonna be eating is my fist if you don’t get the fuck away from me.”

A warm hand touches Frank’s knee. Frank grinds his teeth. There’s the soft whisper of Gerard shrugging, then a tiny breath before he says says, “Okay.”

Frank’s eyes snap open. Gerard’s just kneeling there, tired eyes wet from the wind–Frank fucking hopes it’s from the god damn wind that’s slicing around the corner–lip caught between his teeth as he stares at Frank’s face. He shrugs again. “Like, if that’s what gets you off, whatever. I don’t care.”

“Wow,” Frank says. “Fuck, wow. You are fucked up.”

Gerard’s mouth tugs up in a smile. It’s slanted higher on one side in a way that doesn’t look deliberate, like it’s as jacked as the rest of him. Frank can’t stop staring at it. It’s so fucking weird.

Weird like Gerard elbowing his way in between Frank’s legs like they’re not in the middle of the fucking yard. Frank scrambles up, one foot on the bench, one hand grabbing the table, other hand curled into a fist drawn back ready to let fly. Gerard doesn’t even flinch. Or blink. All he does is kneel there, head tilted up to give Frank a clear shot.

“Motherfucker,” Frank spits, planting his hand to swing over to the other side of the table. He hits the dirt with a muffled thump, shoulders drawn tight and muscles humming, skin itching with the weight of Gerard’s gaze. Snarling another curse, he shakes his arm out, heading for the gate. The guard barely even looks at him this time before buzzing him through.


Sunday, while the priest is making his rounds to all the cons left with a scrap of faith, Gerard sidles on up beside Frank in the library, making annoying interested noises at the book Frank’s holding, trying to read it over his shoulder. Frank handles three and a half minutes of that shit, jaw aching his teeth are clenched so tight, before he slams his book down. “What,” he snaps.

Gerard lights up like Frank invited him to join his fucking bookclub. “Is that Catcher in the Rye?” he asks, grabbing onto a heavy wooden chair and hauling it over. He climbs on up with both feet on the seat, shuffling around a little before he folds neatly down into it, feet tucked under his ass and chunky knees stuck out under the arms. “I fucking love that book. It’s still so fucking relevant. Everybody either wants to be saved, or wants somebody to save, y’know? Never fucking changes.”

For a long minute, Frank just looks at him. His face hasn’t changed, pale and drawn, dark rings around his eyes, but his eyes themselves, they’re not the same muddy brown. They’re brighter, clearer, focused in a way they haven’t been since he first started staring at Frank everywhere he went. Frank doesn’t give a shit if the guy’s toked or not. He still hears himself asking, “You find somebody else to hook you up?”

Gerard nods fast. “Bosse is trying to fucking cure me or something. I don’t need it, though.”

This is so not a conversation Frank wants to have. “Yeah?”

“Yeah.” Another string of rapid-fire nods. “I’m gonna fucking save myself.”

“You’re fucked outta your mind,” Frank says, shoving his chair back. Snake-quick, Gerard’s hand shoots out, wiry fingers clamping tight around Frank’s wrist. He’s got a junkie’s hold, desperate, clutching, shockingly strong. “Let go or I’ll fucking break it.”

“I’ll shut up. Please sit down, I promise I’ll shut up.” Gerard’s gaze darts to the doors, the windows, jitters around the stacks before slamming back to Frank. “My Catholic guilt is astrofuckingnomical, you have no idea, please, fuck, sit down.” He starts gnawing on the cuticles on his other hand as he carefully loosens his grip on Frank’s wrist, eyes wide and pleading.

“I’m not your fucking keeper,” Frank bitches, but he sits his ass back down. Only because this is his fucking Sunday spot, and every preacher man that comes through these walls knows to give this place a wide berth. That’s probably why Gerard’s here, trading on Frank’s rep. Smart.

“You sit there and you stay fucking quiet.” Frank reaches for his book and thumbs through the yellowed pages for his place. “Say one fucking word you’ll be deep-throating those stupid crayons you carry around faster than you can fucking blink.”

The hand Gerard hasn’t got shoved halfway into his mouth flies protectively to the pocket bursting with broken waxy stubs. Still gnawing on his fingers, eyes wide and innocent, he gives a quick nod. Then he jerks his hand away from his mouth and crosses his heart with spit-shiny fingers, beaming like he’s learned a new trick.

Gerard’s fucking cracked.


“Is your middle name James?”

Frank grunts, “No,” as he tosses two cards, tapping the picnic table once. Wentz cocks an eyebrow at Frank, then slowly looks over to where Gerard is perched next to him on the bench, hunched so far over his sketchbook he’s talking to his fucking knees. Frank answers with a look like I don’t fucking know and raps the table again.

“How about John? John’s a good Catholic name.” Frowning, Gerard shoves a tangle of hair behind his ear. He tilts the sketchbook half a degree south. “Sturdy. Reliable.”

Frank scrubs a hand over his face. This has been his life for a fucking week now. Gerard is always fucking there. At breakfast, in the yard, in the fucking shower, Gerard is dogging his footsteps like the fucking neediest chihuahua, all the time yap-yap-yap with the questions. Frank’s fucking sick of it, but a couple times he’s caught Bosse lurking around, watching with beady, satisfied eyes, and he thinks, fuck it. His parole hearing’s coming up in nine months. It’ll look good on his record. Like charity work.

Ellseworth, squinting at his cards, asks, “What the fuck you wanna know his middle name for?” and Gerard’s head snaps up, mouth hanging open, like he can’t fucking believe somebody wouldn’t want to know Frank’s middle name. He flaps his hands around, mouth working but no sound coming out, which is pretty fucking hilarious, and then he’s babbling, “Holy shit, Iero. From Jersey! It’s like I made him up, right? Like somebody in a comic book! Frankie J, from up Jersey way. Don’t fuck with the fucking Ieros, man, they will fuck your shit up. It’s fucking awesome.”

Wentz grins around the toothpick stuck in his teeth. “I’m gonna be the dirty cop in this story, I can feel it.”

“Suck on it, Wentz,” Frank says, folding up his hand and going for his stash. “Seven sticks in. You pussies gonna call or go play fucking dress-up?”

“You shouldn’t say pussies like that,” Gerard says, running his finger over the neat lines of crayons he’s got laid out on the table before picking up a green. “Women are fucking amazing.”

“My man,” Wentz says, slapping his chest like a dickbag and aiming at finger at Gerard. “My man, yes. Pussy is where it’s at.”

“Fuck you, Wentz,” Ellseworth laughs, shuffling some smokes into the pot. “You’ve been on dick so long you don’t even fucking remember what a pussy looks like.”

“Like heaven,” Wentz says, slumping against the table with a dramatic moan. “Sweet, wet heaven.”

Gerard’s paused with a crayon halfway to his mouth. He blinks at each of them in turn, like he’s gotta make sure they’re all really there and not the weird shit he sometimes only sees–and fucking starts talking to–in his head, then frowns. “I said women, not pussies. Well, okay, pussy is amazing, but that’s not what I meant.”

“Sure it isn’t,” Ellseworth drawls.

“You take that back.”

Ellseworth’s snigger trails off. He looks around, grin crooked and confused, and says, “Uh, no.”

Gerard stays eerily still for a second longer, then, like he’s decided exactly what he’s gonna do about this shit, snaps, “You fucking take it back,” and slams his crayon back down so hard it cracks into three tiny pieces. “You fucking take it back, motherfucker, ’cause that’s not what I said.”

“Jesus,” Frank says, scooting down the bench put some distance between him and Gerard’s latest round of really fucking crazy. Across the way, Wentz is doing the same. “Okay, fuck, we get it, it’s not what you said. What the fuck, man.”

No,” Gerard snarls, hands curled over the edge of the table, nails gouging at the flaking paint. Frank carefully slides off the bench while Wentz shoots him a look and does the same. It’s a sad day when he’s on the same page as Pete fucking Wentz. “He said it. He’s got to take it back. Fucking take it back!”

Ellseworth’s got time to laugh a weird, strained little laugh and say, “Jesus Christ,” before Gerard explodes. Frank’s stuck there, staring like a moron, as Gerard scrambles up, looking like he’s about to leap across the fucking table and throttle Ellseworth with his bare hands. Then, like a movie jumping reels, Gerard snaps back, shouting, “Take it back, take it back!” as he grabs onto the bench and heaves the whole fucking works, cards and smokes and crayons and fucking Ellseworth too, up and over. Ellseworth, the stupid dick, gets a leg stuck under the table, wriggling around spitting curses right up until Gerard makes to hop up onto the table. His eyes go wide and panicked, terrified.

“What the fuck!” Frank barks, grabbing onto Gerard around the waist to haul him back. “You crazy stupid fuck, you’ll break his fucking leg!”

“Take it back!” Gerard howls, kicking at Frank’s legs, scratching at his arms, twisting and writhing and snapping his teeth at Frank’s face. “Make him fucking take it back!”

“Christ, I take it back!” Ellseworth hollers. “I didn’t mean it, fuck, I take it back, what the fuck is the matter with you!”

“I really admire women!” Gerard hollers right back, then bursts out giggling, going limp so fast Frank almost drops him on his ass.

“Fuck, fuck,” Wentz is saying, keeping a wary eye on the loon flopping all over Frank while he tries to lever up the table enough to get Ellseworth out from underneath it. “Jesus Christ, Frankie.”

“Frankie,” Gerard hiccups, and lolls his head against Frank’s shoulder. “Frankie, I lost my crayons.”

Watching the guards bearing down on them, Frank says, “The fucking crayons are the least of your fucking worries.”

“Oops,” Gerard giggles.


Gerard gets two nights solitary confinement. Frank’s jittery the entire time, eyeballing the guards, the other inmates, the fucking Warden when he makes an appearance in the cafeteria. Something’s off somewhere, messing up his vibe. It’s rubbing his last nerve raw trying to figure out which direction the shit’s gonna fly from.

It’s not until Tuesday group rolls around that it hits.

Bosse is up front, blathering on about personal responsibility. Frank’s sandwiched between some guy that gutted his wife on their anniversary–crime of passion, Frank’s white Jersey ass; guy knew his woman was cheating on him for months–and Gerard. Gerard’s got that special kind of fidgety going on, the one that nails him exactly right before he needs another hit of whatever Bosse is doling out to him. He keeps scooting his chair forward and back, forward and back, muttering under his breath as he tears page after page out of his sketchbook. Frank drives the heel of one hand hard against an eye and keeps breathing.

“Fucking fuck,” Gerard bites out, viciously scribbling over whatever the fuck he was trying to draw. He wears the crayon down to the raggedy paper, then flips it to an underhand grip like he’s gonna jab it through the sketchbook. He grinds it in, paper shredding, muttering and scribbling and cursing and then it’s, “Fucking motherfucking chair!” as he bursts onto his feet. He turns wild eyes to Frank, like it’s Frank’s fucking fault, or like Frank’s gonna fucking fix it or something, ’cause he’s screaming, “It keeps ruining my lines!” at the top of his crazy-ass lungs. “My fucking lines!”

“So get a fucking different chair!” Frank shouts back.

Gerard stops short, frozen. He’s got that look again. His fingers twitch, giving Frank this painfully crystal-fucking-clear image of him grabbing up the chair and busting it to pieces on all their heads, and next thing Frank knows he’s on his feet too, hauling Gerard away from it by the back of his collar. The last thing Frank’s expecting is for Gerard to round on him, this focused, calculated look in his eyes. Frank hesitates, grip loosening.

Gerard makes a break for the chair. Frank grabs at him again, missing and lurching forward awkwardly. He goes with it, getting his other foot under him in time to turn it into a lunge that sends him careening straight into Gerard’s back. Gerard goes down, a flash of wide eyes and that fucking grin, before he twists around and clamps his jaw onto Frank’s arm.

“Motherfucker!” Frank spits, shoving him away. The guards are there, hauling Gerard to his feet, Bosse shouting over the trash-talking racket the other inmates are making. His arm is fucking throbbing, the perfect imprint of Gerard’s cooked teeth welling up with blood.

“Damn,” the wife-sticker whistles, looking down at Frank’s arm.

Frank can’t even fucking believe it. The crazy shit bit him. He looks up, finds Gerard, caught by the arms by two guards, grinning a great big shit-eating grin at him. Frank’s blood is pink in his teeth. It’s the craziest stunt he’s ever pulled, but for the first time, he doesn’t look one bit nuts. He looks calm, and confident, and like the taste of Frank’s blood in his mouth is exactly what he woke up this morning knowing he was gonna get.

Tearing his gaze away, Frank looks at Bosse and says, “Go get me a fucking tetanus.”


“You gotta be fucking shitting me,” Frank says.

“I’m afraid not,” Bosse says, neatly sidestepping out of the doctor’s way as she bustles around getting bandages and tape and what had better be every fucking antibiotic this shithole stocks. “Gerard Way is your cellmate effective immediately. I believe in the long run, this move will benefit you both.”

“He fucking bit me.”

“Yes,” Bosse says, frowning. He rubs at his chin. “That was slightly unexpected.”

Frank rolls his eyes. “Unexpected, Jesus.” Busy wrapping up his arm, the doctor darts a glance at his face, then another at his tats. Her lips curve slightly. “He better not have messed up my ink.”

“I don’t think so,” the doctor assures him.

“That may very well have been his intent,” Bosse says, oblivious to how, if he’d get his stodgy ass gone, Frank could have the girl up on the table, her legs around his waist, in about three seconds flat. “Gerard feels very deeply about art. You’re a walking canvas, Frank. He would feel jealousy over the number of artists already with their work on your skin.”

Frank says, “So where a normal dude would wanna do me a piece, he wants to gnaw a chunk outta my ass.”

Bosse nods, pleased. “Exactly.”


“Gerard’s having some difficulty reintegrating into a social environment,” Bosse says, adjusting his glasses in a way that means he’s settling in for a long ramble. It’s a good thing Frank’s got a decent view of the doctors’s awesome rack to keep him from zoning out completely. “The natural barter system of institutions is only further hindering his progress. Encountering you, someone who wants absolutely nothing at all from him, who in fact demands that he give nothing, is exactly the sort of breakthrough I believe he needs.”

The doctor finishes gently taping down the gauze. Her fingertips linger a couple seconds longer than they need to, tracing one of the red rays of sunlight along his forearm. “Yeah,” Frank says, eyes on her slim fingers, “yeah, okay, whatever.”

“‘Whatever’, Frank?”

“Yeah, fuck,” Frank says, snapping his gaze front and centre. “It’s not fucking rocket science. I let the guy hang around, free of charge, you put in a good word for me when my hearing rolls around. That’s the deal, right?”

Bosse looks doubtful, but he says, “Yes, Frank. That’s the deal.”

“So, deal.” Frank flexes his arm. It pulls a bit, but whatever the doctor rubbed on it before wrapping him up is dealing pretty awesomely with the sting. Too bad she didn’t get a chance to rub something else on him. He tosses her a smile as he hops down from the table. “Thanks, sweetheart.”

“Take it off to shower,” she says, eyeing him askance as she squeezes a dollop of white antibiotic cream onto a little cardboard square and holds it out. “That’s enough for three nights. Try not to let anyone else bite you in the meantime.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Frank says, hitting her up with the full does of Iero charm, big brown eyes, mischievous quirk of a smile, his hand cupped under hers to take the cardboard square light and lingering. She gives him a look back like she’s so not buying it, but that’s exactly why she’s buying it. Everybody loves a bad boy with a squishy marshmallow core. Her panties are practically ripping themselves off.

“Thank you, Dr Galloway,” Bosse says, touching Frank’s shoulder to herd him towards the door and the guards waiting to escort him back to the common room. Halfway there, his voice low, he adds, “That is exactly the sort of thing not to flaunt in front of Gerard, Frank. He’s going to be very possessive over your friendship.”

Frank snorts. “Doc, that back there, that ain’t friendship.”

“Yes,” Bosse says flatly, adjusting his glasses again, “I noticed. Regardless, Frank. Your chances at early parole are riding on this. Do pay attention.”

Early parole? Frank shoots him a look. Bosse keeps his gaze firmly ahead. So that’s the way it’s gonna be. Fair enough. Frank can play that game. He can play it in fucking spades.


By the time Frank makes it back to his cell for lockup, Gerard’s already settled in. All of Frank’s shit has been moved to the top bunk, blankets a messy, useless heap, his books stacked haphazardly on top. Gerard’s on the bottom bunk, on Frank’s bunk, sitting cross-legged bent over his sketchbook. His head snaps up when Frank crosses the threshold, nostrils flaring like a startled animal.

“Frankie!” he says, bouncing his ass like a five-year-old. “Hi! I can’t have top bunk, I sometimes fall out at night. What happened to your arm?”

“Are you fucking kidding me?” Frank says. “You fucking bit it!”

Gently pushing the sketchbook aside, Gerard stands up, hands behind his back as he shuffles closer. He leans forward a fraction, peering at the white square taped to Frank’s arm. “Can I see?”

No, dickbag, you can’t fucking see is right on the tip of Frank’s tongue. Grinding his teeth together, he manages to swallow it back down. Gerard could blow this whole fucking thing for him if he runs crying to Bosse. “Don’t fucking touch it,” he says instead, picking carefully at the tape.

“That’s why I’ve got my hands behind my back,” Gerard says happily. He watches, way too focused, biting on his damn lip again, as Frank peels back the gauze. “Oh wow.” His hand twitches, making Frank pull back, and he quickly says, “No, no, I won’t touch,” leaning closer, hair sliding forward, almost breathing on the fucking thing. “That’s so cool. Are those really my teeth?”

“It’s not fucking cool,” Frank says, slapping the gauze back down too hard. “You’ll be getting your meals through a god damn tube if you bite me one more fucking time.”

Gerard screws his face up, mumbles, “Sorry,” and shuffles back to his bunk. “I don’t remember.”

Frank is no chicken shit, but he’s gonna hang back here by the open bars until he figures out if Gerard’s got another episode in him today. It’s fucking practical. “Man, you wigged out on a chair.”

Wrinkling his nose up even more, Gerard asks, “A chair?”

“Yeah, for ruining your, fuck, your lines or something? Some shit like that.”

“My– Oh!” Gerard literally smacks himself in the fucking forehead. “My lines. Yeah, ’cause, I was, um,” and he trails off, gnawing on the inside of his lip, then his thumb, flipping through page after page in his book. “Yeah, I was drawing this!”

Surprise, surprise, it’s Frank again. Except this time he’s on his knees, a rosary clasped in his hands, and he’s got seven swords sticking out of his fucking chest almost exactly like the Lady of Sorrows inked into his arm. It could’ve been anybody in the picture, maybe, except Frank’s head isn’t bowed in prayer. He’s staring straight ahead, this smirk on his face that doesn’t at all match the rest of the shit going on in there.

“See?” Gerard says, looking up expectantly. “I had to get it right.”

Frank is fucking sleeping with one eye open.


It’s a good hour past lights out. Frank’s got his face shoved into the mattress, a pillow crammed over his ears, and it’s not fucking helping. He can still hear every little whisper, every cottony rustle, every god damn moan.

Yanking the pillow away, Frank flips over and viciously kicks the bedframe, one-two-three.

Gerard groans, “Sorry, sorry– Almost–”

“Jesus fucking Christ.” Twenty fucking minutes. Gerard’s been down there jacking it for twenty fucking minutes. Frank hears him spit again and winces.

“I can’t,” Gerard pants, “it’s just not, fuck.” There’s a violent huff, the bed shakes, and Gerard lets out this long, low groan, chopped and ragged like somebody’s choking the life out of him.

Frank lifts his gaze to the ceiling, starts to mouth, Thank you, Christ, but before he’s even gotten halfway through, the steady slap of skin on skin starts up again. “You’re not fucking serious, c’mon!”

“It’s because I’m in a new place,” Gerard says conversationally, only the slightest strain at the edges. “Y’know? Like, performance anxiety. Except not, ’cause I’ve got no problems performing. I’m hard as a fucking rock down here.” He puffs out a groan. “Fuck, it kinda hurts.”

“Whatever,” Frank says. He grinds his teeth together when Gerard lets out another pitiful half-choked groan. “I don’t care. Just fucking take care of it.”

“I’m fucking trying!” Gerard hollers.

“Try fucking harder!”

“I am fucking harder!”

Frank snaps his mouth shut. This is one of those times in life where he’s just gotta fucking admit that no matter what he does, it’s not gonna work. Like a bumblebee bashing its dumb little bobbly head against a window. Like poor fucking Sisyphus, man, now he knows how that dude felt.

“I think it’s your voice,” Gerard says. “I really like your voice. It’s kinda sexy, y’know? It goes all low and grating when you’re pissed off.”

“I’m not fucking–”

“Oh, god, yeah,” Gerard moans. Grabbing desperately for the pillow, Frank shoves it over his face again. He gets three seconds of blessed silence before Gerard’s, “Frank, Frankie, c’mon, talk to me, almost there, feels really fucking good, Frankie,” gouges his brain like a red-hot poker.

“God fucking damn it,” Frank grates, flinging the pillow aside. Planting one hand firmly on the mattress, the other on the sturdy pole bolting their beds to the wall, Frank tumbles easily down off his bunk onto the floor beside Gerard’s. He gets one good, solid look at Gerard’s eyes flashing wide, the sharp hiss of a breath, before he slaps his hand over Gerard’s mouth, fingers and thumb digging viciously into Gerard’s flushed cheeks. Then Gerard’s face crumples, a low sound humming against Frank’s hand, the fucker fucking coming right then and there. Another rasping breath and his sharp little teeth are digging into Frank’s palm, his other hand–wet with spit and precome, Jesus Christ–coming up to hold Frank’s hand tight against his mouth.

“Jesus, Jesus, Jesus,” Frank chants, viciously shaking Gerard off.

“Yeah,” Gerard purrs, blinking up at Frank slow and satisfied as he sinks against the rumpled blankets. He gives his spunk-covered dick a lazy pat. “Was it good for you too?”

“I’m gonna fucking murder you in your sleep.”

“Cool,” Gerard says, rolling up onto his side, pants halfway down his ass. He tucks his folded hands beneath his cheek. “Can we cuddle first?”

Frank stares. Gerard blinks. Then Gerard’s mouth quirks, his eyes going kinda bewildered, like he’s actually lying there fucking wondering why Frank isn’t clambering on in for some quality post-orgasmic basking.

“In your sleep,” Frank hisses, and stages a manful retreat.


Frank squints across the visitor’s room. With how fucking looney as Gerard is, he never would’ve thought they’d let him outside the plate-glass windows long enough to look at anybody, let alone leave him out here with the civilians. The guy he’s with is as skinny and gangly and blond as Gerard isn’t, slumped against the table in ripped-up jeans and a vintage peacoat, a scarf wrapped tight around his neck and his gloves still on even though it’s so hot in here it smells like armpit. Frank can’t figure him out. Doesn’t look much like a doctor type, or the kind to be dispatched by charities to visit the sick, forgotten, and deranged. He doesn’t look much like family, either. Maybe a cousin. Sucker.

Ray’s ‘fro bobs into view. “Frank?” he asks, twisting around trying to see what Frank’s gawking at.

“That guy,” Frank says, jerking his chin up. He waits until Ray zeros in on Gerard and friend. “That guy is fucking cracked.”

Ray sizes them up a couple seconds longer, eyebrows drawing slowly together. He turns back to say, “He looks pretty normal.”

“Are you fucking kidding me,” Frank hisses, scooting in so close to the table it makes friends with his liver. “He wants to dig my heart outta my chest with a rusty spoon and skullfuck my corpse.”

Ray blinks. He says, “Wow,” turns around to look at Gerard again, who’s smiling and laughing disgustingly normally, then looks back. “Are you sure?”

Frank thunks his head on the table.

“Hey,” Ray says, rubbing at his shoulder soothingly. “Hey. Christa’s moving in with me.”

“Dude,” Frank says, yanking his head up. “Dude. Seriously? Fuckin’ a, man, fuckin’ a.”

Ray beams. And shuffles his ass on the seat. And tries to scratch at the back of his neck, but his ‘fro is like the impenetrable hide of a Wookie so he ends up awkwardly patting it instead. “Thanks man,” he says, and pats at his hair some more. “I think she wanted to come see you. But–”

“But fucking nothing,” Frank says. “Me and your woman gotta have a good chat about how to keep you in line.”

Ray looks down at the table, then straight at Frank, high beams of sincerity cranked to the max. “She feels terrible about what happened, Frankie.”

“Not her fault.”


“Ray,” Frank says, slapping the table and ignoring the way the beady little eyes of the guards zero in on him. “For fuck’s sake, man. I’d do it again. Dickbag fucking deserved it for trying to pull that shit.”

Ray’s broad shoulders slump. “You didn’t, though.” Fuck, his hair slumps. “Two years in here, Frankie. It’s too much.”

Frank hikes his shoulders up to his ears. He’s not lying. Sure, he’d rather be on the outside than in here dealing with all this crap, but it’s not like he’s in maximum security or something, even if some of the dudes he’s sharing space with oughta be. The days when Frank’s not feeling sorry for hanging around long enough to make sure the douche didn’t bleed out, he’s feeling sorry that he didn’t head out back for a smoke break sooner. He didn’t even know Christa back then. He doesn’t even really know her now, except that she makes Ray stupid and happy and fuck it, that’s good enough.

“Huh,” Ray says.

“What?” Following Ray’s eyeline, Frank’s gaze bumps straight into Gerard’s and gets stuck there. The guy with him arches a brow and says something, lips barely moving. Gerard doesn’t budge. Just stares, and stares, like if he tries hard enough he can peel back all the layers that keep Frank safe, skin and muscle and bone, to find whatever the hell he’s looking for.

“Fuckin’ creep,” Frank mutters, while Ray just says, “Huh,” again.


That night, Frank waits until the absolute last second to saunter into their cell, shoulders tense and gut twisting. He hasn’t seen a fucking hair of Gerard since the weird dodge and snipe staring contest during visiting hours, and he hasn’t been able to enjoy a single minute of it. All he can think about is what the fuck the crazy asshole is gonna do now.

Turns out, crazy’s gonna take a time out. Gerard’s curled up in a tight little ball on his bunk, knees almost to his chin and hair falling in a scraggly mess over his face, snoring all soft and gentle. Frank hesitates a few feet away, debating if he trusts that shit. It’s Gerard. No way should he.

But Gerard doesn’t stir when Frank takes a cautious step forward. Or when he very carefully grabs onto the bunk and heaves up into it. Frank sticks his head over the edge, squinting at him suspiciously. This has gotta be an act. Even after last night’s one-man porn show, Gerard had kicked and squirmed and tossed in his sleep for hours. Frank knows, okay. Frank is a light sleeper, and being woken up every five fucking seconds by that shit is not his idea of a good night.

Gerard snuffles in his sleep. A chunk of hair gets stuck across his open mouth. He smacks his lips a couple times in a vague way, not like he’s trying to dislodge it at all.

“What the fuck,” Frank says, louder than he should.

Gerard doesn’t twitch. And okay, Frank thinks. Okay. Life is tossing him a bone here. He’ll fucking take it.


Frank comes to with his heart clenched tight in his chest. He stares up at the blank dark, waiting for the echo of terrified whimpers to fade with his dream. It takes him a couple agonising breaths to figure out it’s not the ghost of Mama’s cries he’s hearing–Mama’s safe, Ray’s got her, Ray’ll never let her cry like that–but Gerard’s. Gerard’s down there fucking bawling his eyes out in that hushed, choked way abused animals get, too afraid to let it out but too hurt to keep it in.

“Oh, Jesus,” Frank says. Gerard lets out a weird hiccuping whine. He can’t take this. Frank’s got to get some fucking sleep.

Rolling over, Frank sticks his arm over the edge and snaps his fingers a couple times. “Hey, hey. Gerard. Gerard. Dude.” Slapping his palm against the metal bunk gets him nothing except a sharp sting in his wrist. He kicks the frame again, hard. Gerard chokes on air, this harsh, grating noise.

“Fuck it,” Frank says, and swings over the edge, trying not to step on Gerard’s head on the way down. He crouches beside the bed and gives Gerard’s shoulder a shake. “C’mon, man, wake up. You’re fucking killing me here.”

Hunching deeper into himself, hands covering his face, Gerard starts crying for real, these big, wracking sobs like somebody’s ripping his heart out while he’s watching.

“Fucking shut your bitch up!” somebody snarls from a few cells down.

“Fucking shut you up,” Frank snarls back, shaking Gerard harder.

“Hey,” one of the guards calls. “Keep it quiet.”

“Yeah, ’cause it’s not like you’re gonna fucking help me,” Frank says, keeping it under his breath this time. Last thing he needs is some kind of disciplinary action on his record. Putting his mouth close to Gerard’s ear, getting a whiff of soap and unwashed hair that isn’t actually so bad, Frank says, “Gerard. Gerard, wake up.”

Gerard comes awake with a gasp. His elbow flies out, catching Frank in the jaw and knocking him right back on his ass. Gerard doesn’t stop there, kicking, lashing out, unfocused and crazy like he’s fighting shadows. And fuck, fuck, Frank’s gonna get blamed for this shit. Somehow, some way, Bosse is gonna fucking blame him, and that’ll be it.

“Stop,” Frank hisses, making a grab for him. Gerard’s hands curl into claws, ragged nails scratching at Frank’s arms, his face. “Stop, stop. It’s me, okay, it’s Frank. Frankie. It’s fucking Frankie, for fuck’s sake, you fight like a chick!”

Gerard freezes. He blinks at his skinny wrists caught in Frank’s grip, then at his bunk, the wall behind it covered in his whacked-out drawings. “Frankie,” he says, a rusty croak, going limp. Frank’s got to tighten his hold to keep the guy from braining himself on the concrete. He looks straight at Frank, eyes bright and clear in the half-light, says, perfectly evenly, “Don’t be fucking sexist, Frankie,” and passes right the fuck out.

Frank drops his wrists and slumps down, back propped against the bunk. The slow, even rhythm of Gerard’s breaths stir the hair at the nape of his neck where it’s getting too long again. He digs a knuckle into his eye, says, “Jesus Christ,” one more time, and decides he’s just gonna hang out here for a few minutes, make sure Gerard’s not gonna come screaming awake again.


“Heard your bitch gave you some trouble last night,” Henderson says, stuffing reconstituted egg in his face. He belches, his piggy gaze making the slow trek down to the scratches sitting red and raw on Frank’s arms. For a guy that bites his nails down to the fucking quick, Gerard still managed to do some damage. He’s fucking lucky those ragged edges weren’t able to dig in deep enough to fuck up Frank’s ink for real.

Calmly finishing a gulp of lukewarm juice, Frank says, “Is that what it sounded like.”

A couple guys bust out some rough guffaws as Ellseworth reaches around two more to slap Frank on the back, all old school atta-boy, get it. Probably helps that Gerard’s back in their cramped cell, huddled in bed with the blankets tugged over his head. Anybody who walks by and gets a load of that is gonna think Frank did a worse number on him.

“Figures he’d take it like a cunt,” Henderson says, “since he looks like one and all.”

Stomach tight and hot, Frank forces down another mouthful of gritty toast and imagines the satisfying crack of Henderson’s face breaking under his fists.


The guards leave Gerard alone all that day, and the next, most likely on Bosse’s word. When group rolls around on Tuesday, Frank’s expecting Gerard’s free pass to extend there, too. But when Frank saunters over to the grouping of chairs Bosse sets up every meeting like they’re guys in a mental hospital instead of a fucking prison, Gerard is there. The first thing that sets off warning bells in Frank’s head is there’s no sketchbook perched in Gerard’s lap. The second is the way Gerard’s sprawled out in his chair, slumped way down low with his hands folded over his stomach and his legs stuck out. But what really clinches it is how Gerard’s got his head up, hair dragged away from his face, gaze tracking each of the guys as they wander in. A couple of them shoot Gerard wary looks, keeping their distance like they’d rather not have his crazy explode in their faces.

Frank marches over and plunks his ass down in a chair right beside him. Gerard doesn’t spare him a glance, too busy burning holes in the back of some dude’s skull. Frank debates the merits of saying hey–it’s not like he wants Gerard’s crazy to explode in his face again either–but before he gets around to making a decision he can live with, Bosse bustles in and starts the circus.

Halfway through the wife-sticker’s usual anti-feminist tirade, Frank’s skin starts prickling with familiar heat. He seriously fucking hates this guy. He gets blame displacement and projection and all that psycho-babble shit, but what it comes down to is the guy is a jackass that killed his wife. Viciously knuckling at one eye, Frank grates, “Would you fucking shut up?”

“Frank,” Bosse says, a warning.

“No, seriously, come the fuck on.” Elbow propped on one knee, Frank leans forward, jabbing a finger at wife-sticker’s startled face. “You think letting him verbally jack it over there every Tuesday is fucking helping him get over his limp-dick inadequacy issues? He’s not fucking sorry he finally managed to stick it to her. Nobody in here is fucking sorry, okay? Me, I’m fucking delighted that guy is eating three squares out of a tube. I’d fucking choke him with the damn thing if I got a chance.” Frank shoves his chair back hard enough it squeals against the tile. He’s so angry he’s fucking shaking. He hates this shit. He hates that Gerard’s staring at him with wide, interested eyes, like he’s trotted out a new trick. He hates these motherfuckers, and Bosse’s fucking games, and the whole fucking place. And he’s tired, really fucking tired, ’cause no matter which way he comes at it, no matter what bullshit he tells Ray to make the guy feel better, he doesn’t really believe he deserves to be in here, either.

“Just, fuck,” Frank says, raking a hand through his hair. “Quit fucking acting like you’re making a fucking difference, ’cause you’re not.” He kicks his chair out of the way, trying not to pay attention to the burn of Gerard’s attention on him, and pretends that keeping to a walk on the way out means he’s not running away.


The yard is empty. Frank’s on the fourth cigarette out of the five he had left. He’s already lost the bet he made that Bosse would send someone to collect him by number three. The Warden gives that guy way too much leash. Pretty soon they’re gonna have arts and crafts before lunch and scheduled playdates every other week.

The crunch of footsteps makes Frank huddle deeper into the popped collar of his cheap, standard issue uniform. It’s getting fucking cold out here, but he’s not ready to go back in yet. He can’t handle it. It’s too soon. And fuck, could he use a fucking drink.

Fucking figures it’s Gerard’s hunched form that comes slouching around his corner. “Hey,” Gerard says, finding a piece of wall and settling in like they’re buddies. “Spare me a drag?”

“Fucking get your own,” Frank mumbles around a mouthful of smoke.

Gerard shrugs. Fucker didn’t even really want it. “So,” he says conversationally, “that was some bullshit.”

Pressing the heel of one hand hard against an eye isn’t helping the headache Frank’s got brewing in his skull, but he does it anyway. It even starts to feel good, right before it doesn’t. When he blinks both eyes open again, his vision’s lopsided and spotty, and Gerard’s stupid face is still right there.

“Look,” Frank starts, and Gerard steamrolls right over it with, “I think I’m gonna blow you now,” and somehow ends up on his knees in the dirt with his hands shoved inside Frank’s pants before Frank can blink.

Frank tries spitting, “What the fuck,” through clenched teeth, but Gerard’s got weirdly warm hands all over his junk, palming his nuts and lifting the whole works free of the waistband that always digs into Frank’s skin and leaves a line of itchy red dents across his stomach. Gerard drags a few fingers along them like they’re something he’d maybe like to lick.

“I’m kind of a fag,” Gerard says, shaking his hair back. He gives Frank’s dick a couple slow, smooth jerks, quirking as smile as Frank sucks in a breath and starts to thicken up. “Don’t think I lied, though, I love women, they’re soft and wet and they always smell so fucking good, but,” he trails off, shoving his face right into Frank’s crotch and breathing deep, letting out this warm, shuddery sigh that sounds a fucking lot like a moan. “You smell pretty fucking good, too.”

“Dude,” Frank says, then, “dude” again because Gerard’s mouth is right there, wet and open, and it’s been a fucking long time, okay, a really fucking long time, but Gerard’s not going for it like Frank figured he would after how fast he went to his knees. Or the way he’s eyeing Frank’s dick like it’s absolutely delicious and Gerard would really like a taste right the fuck now.

“I’m not really into coercion though,” Gerard says, swaying slightly as he resettles his grip. “So it’d be really cool if you said something like ‘sure, Gee, please stick my dick in your mouth’ sometime soon.”

“Gee?” Frank echoes dumbly, not because he likes it or anything, but because he’s never heard it before, never thought about Gerard as somebody who’s got friends who give him nicknames, as somebody who’s got a real life outside these walls. Gerard looks up at him like he meant it, though, a warmth in his eyes that doesn’t match the practiced way licks up the side of Frank’s dick, deliberately closes his mouth around the head and gives it a delicate suck. Sensation too sharp to be pleasure rockets up Frank’s spine, then billows out along his nerves, sweet and sudden. It’s so good his knees buckle, and he’d hate that, too, hate how he can tell Gerard’s smiling even while pinning his hips to hold him steady, mouth opening wide to take in more of him, and fuck, fuck, this is not turning out to be the day Frank thought it would when he woke up this morning.

When Gerard pulls off, pulls off all the fucking way, the rush of cool air on wet skin makes Frank hiss. He asks, “Can I keep going?” like he actually fucking cares if this is making Frank fucking uncomfortable or some shit.

Frank’s kinda having a hard time finding words. Mostly it’s because this whole thing came right outta nowhere, slapping him in the face while he was busy nursing a good rage, and maybe a little because Gerard’s fingers are still wrapped firmly around him, jacking him too hard to be called a tease but after the wet heat of his mouth, that’s exactly what it is. He grunts something that sounds close enough to, “Yeah,” for Gerard to nose his way in again, mouth at Frank’s balls long enough that Frank’s convinced he is trying to be a god damn tease, and then Frank’s dick is in his mouth, all the way in, throat tight and hot and fucking unreal.

“Fuck, fuck,” Frank gasps, fuck, it’s way too good for a prison blow. Gerard’s going at it like he honestly fucking likes it, like the helpless little twitches of Frank’s hips trying to get in deeper, harder, are exactly what he wants out of life. Frank’s smoke is burning down to the filter between his fingers, dropping grey ash onto Gerard’s hair tangled around his knuckles. He flicks the butt away, not really wanting to start the motherfucking grease fire that’s sure to go up if the cherry hits Gerard’s dirty hair, and then his hand’s free to gather up a nice, big fistful, something real to hold onto while Gerard sucks his brains out through his dick.

“I do like it,” Gerard’s saying between long, slow sucks, “I really like your cock, Frankie, can’t wait to make you come, gonna swallow it all down,” shit like that, real pornographic shit that makes Frank’s temperature fucking skyrocket until it feels like he’s running a fever, one of those brutal, all-consuming ones that boil his brain in his skull, makes him look down to see if his skin’s peeling off his bones he’s so on fire. But when his gaze drops, all he sees is Gerard’s mouth stretched wide around him, Gerard’s eyelashes fanned dark against flushed cheeks, and the hand Gerard’s got pressed between his own legs, rocking against his palm like he’s too turned on to take it, he’s gotta touch, gotta come.

Frank grates a warning, best he can do, and Gerard gives this eager jerk, shuffling in closer and angling his head like that’ll make it easier for him to take the shot of Frank’s come straight down his throat. “Fuck,” he rasps when he pulls off, come-thick spit clinging to his lips, “fuck, so good, such a fucking hit, Frankie, you got no idea,” and obviously Frank doesn’t, because he never would’ve thought the next thing out of Gerard’s mouth would be the same ragged noise he made that night he came with Frank’s hand over his mouth, shocked and grateful, still somehow so fucking smug.

Frank’s still trying to figure out what the fuck to say, or do, his wet dick hanging out, brushing Gerard’s cheek, when Gerard looks up at him and says with his red, red mouth, “I’m not crazy.”

“That’s what crazy people say,” Frank says, breathing hard, deep and hard, but still not getting enough air.

Gerard smiles a tiny, private little smile, and rests his forehead on Frank’s thigh. “I know.”


“Is it Jacob?” Gerard asks that night, standing on his bunk with his arms folded on Frank’s, resting his chin on them like he doesn’t have two fistfuls of blanket clutched tight to keep his balance. “Jacob could be a good name.”

Frank rubs at his eyebrow and keeps his gaze focused on the words in front of him, words he hasn’t been reading for at least ten minutes. Not since Gerard clambered up here. “Maybe I don’t have a middle name.”

“No way,” Gerard says, grinning. “I know you do. I can tell.”

Frank doesn’t even want to know the logic behind that one. “You do realise I’m not a comic book character, right? This is real fucking life.”

Gerard gives him a sour look, one part no shit and two parts fuck you. “If we were in a comic book, you’d be taller than five-fucking-one, and I’d have no teeth.”

“Jesus.” Frank drops his book. He really, really doesn’t want to do the logic there, either. So much so that he’s not even gonna touch the height thing. “It’s Anthony, okay? After my grandpa. Would you get out of my fucking face now?”

“Anthony,” Gerard says, testing it out. He says it a couple more times, “Anthony, Anthony, Frank Anthony Iero,” changing the inflection in his voice, until he says, “Anthony,” like a punchline, face creasing up in the biggest shit-eating grin. “Fuckin’ a!” he crows, slapping the bed, “fuckin’ a Frankie!” cracking up, fucking howling with laugher, taking a rough tumble to the hard floor when Frank gives him a shove but barely even noticing. It’s kinda impressive, and almost kinda funny, until he slurs, “Frankie, fuckin’ a,” between crazy giggles, “I totally made you up, Frankie, Frankie, fuckin’ a.”

“Fuck you.” Frank picks up his book, thumbing quickly through yellowed pages. “And fuck off.”

Gerard’s laughter dies like somebody slit his throat. No gurgle, no warning, just bam, gone. Frank makes it a whole minute and a half before he’s got to peer over the edge of the shitty mattress to see if Gerard’s still breathing down there. Gerard peers back up at him, flushed and panting, hair clinging to his cheeks where he laughed so hard he fucking cried, and Frank gets a hit of pure lust straight to the gut like that. It’s stupid. It’s so fucking stupid, but he wants to dig his fingers into the softness above Gerard’s hips. He’s actually fucking picturing Gerard’s naked ass dimpled under his grip, or maybe Gerard’s thighs where Frank’s holding them flush against his chest so he can just go and go and go, give Gerard a real reason to look fucked up and strung out and breathless.

“Wow,” Gerard says, puffing out a breath as he drops back on his elbows. “Your face.”

“What the fuck about my face, you fucking–”

“You want to fuck me.” Gerard bites his lip, gaze darting sideways to the closed cell door. It’s at least an hour to lights out. “You’re thinking about fucking me right now.”

Frank’s mouth snaps shut. He’s not that sloppy. He’s not Gerard, for fuck’s sake, every thought in his head showing up on his face. The whole thing surprised him, that’s all. Getting hit with the full technicolour show out of the blue like that, Gerard gasping and moaning for him in five-point-one surround sound.

“I think you wanna make it hurt,” Gerard says, his voice lowered but not enough, there’s no real wall between them and the other inmates, no cover of darkness to hide in. “Not the way some guys wanna make it hurt, but enough to leave something behind. Fingerprint bruises, bite-mark braille. That kinda thing. And not just ’cause you want to. ‘Cause you’ve got to.”

Teeth clenched, Frank swallows hard. There’s no way. There is no fucking way.

“I’m good with that,” Gerard says, like they’re talking about pizza toppings, not Frank’s sudden and apparently obvious desire to fuck him up the ass. “I think I’d probably like it, coming at it that way.” He clambers up, brushing off the seat of his pants and shuffling to his bed. The mattress creaks as he rolls down on it, cotton rustling as he gets comfortable. “Not right now, though. I gotta think about it some more.”

Frank’s pretty sure Gerard’s asleep before he manages a strained, “You fucking do that,” but that’s okay. It’s not like he’s really talking to Gerard, anyway.


Frank wakes up, the quiet dark pressing in, and wonders what the fuck it is this time. He squints at the weird shadow above his face, brain chugging along, until it resolves into Gerard’s face. “What the fuck,” he rasps, thick with sleep. He tries to shove up, but Gerard’s fucking on top of him, solid and heavy and still so surprisingly fucking strong.

“Just me, Frankie,” he says, shoving messy hair behind his ears. There’s not much light for Frank’s eyes to adjust to, but he thinks Gerard’s wearing that small, crooked grin again. “I thought about it.”

“Fucking thought about what.” Now that Frank’s awake, adrenaline surging through his veins, he should be able to shove Gerard off. If he could fucking move.

“Spit,” Gerard says, like that explains everything. He waits, expectant, then puffs out an exasperated breath when Frank keeps staring at him. “For fucking, Frankie. It’s not slick enough. But I really want you to fuck me. So I thought it’d be cool if we– Actually, this’ll probably be easier if I just show you.”

Gerard starts shoving at him, wriggling down in the space between Frank and the wall. “What the fuck are you doing?” Frank hisses, and gets a hand flapping in his face for his trouble.

“Just wait,” Gerard says, eager like he’s biting his lip again. There’s a flurry of movement, Gerard’s elbow digging into Frank’s stomach, then his thigh, what the fucking fuck, then Gerard flops against him, back heaving and hair flung in Frank’s face. Frank spits it out. “Now,” Gerard says, like he’s teaching a class or something, “where’s your– Fuck, dude, how many layers are you wearing?”

“It’s fucking cold, okay,” Frank snaps, still not really getting it until Gerard’s chill hand is worming into his shorts. He hisses again, jerking his hips back, but Gerard’s not heading for his junk.

A couple fingers tap Frank’s bare ass. “C’mon, lift up. Shove ‘em down.”

There’s a whole lotta options Frank’s got, including dumping Gerard flat on his ass on the floor. Instead he hikes his damn ass up to let Gerard tug his pants down. Gerard’s palm runs awkwardly up his side after, rucking up his shirt, and when Gerard makes this satisfied noise and settles back down, Frank sucks in a whistling breath. “You’re fucking naked.”

Gerard hums agreeably. “I get really hot when I’m turned on. Volcanic. Stick your dick between my legs, okay?”

A huge lump lodges in Frank’s throat. “Didn’t you just fucking say–”

Gerard huffs, “Jesus,” and grabs onto Frank’s dick. Frank doesn’t squawk, he fucking doesn’t, but obviously Gerard isn’t all that turned on yet because his hand is fucking ice cold. Then Frank’s got long enough to realise Gerard is hauling him forward by his fucking half-hard dick, and almost long enough to get pissed off about it, before he’s surrounded by soft, warm heat, a little sweat-damp, and a lot weird.

“Yeah,” Gerard says, wriggling closer. “Yeah, okay, wow.” He squeezes his thighs tighter around Frank’s cock, shifting slightly. “That feels pretty awesome. You should do the fucking, okay, you’ve got more leverage.”

Frank’s got one hand stuck halfway up in the air because he honestly doesn’t fucking know what to do with it. Gerard’s right there, totally fucking naked, fucking spooning, clenching his thighs kinda rhythmically on Frank’s dick while he’s making these quiet, thoughtful noises, and the best Frank’s got is blurting, “You want me to hump your ass,” in a voice like he hopes the answer is fuck yes. Which isn’t what he’s thinking at all, okay. Rubbing off on Gerard’s thighs is not the best sex he’s ever gonna have, Jesus.

“You were leaking all over the place yesterday, c’mon, it’ll get better. Just, fucking–” Flailing around, Gerard grabs onto Frank’s arm and yanks it around him, holding both of their hands tight to his chest. “Fucking go.”

“Shut up,” Frank says, and shoves up on an elbow to give it a shot. The angle’s crap but it still feels vaguely good, and he’s harder than he was a couple seconds ago. Gerard makes another one of those noises–Frank’s going to be hearing those in his fucking sleep, shit–and shuffles around some more, fucking everything up entirely. Frank’s got his mouth open to bitch him out, because this is his fucking idea, he should stay still and take it, but Gerard’s busy rubbing Frank’s dick wet and scooting back into place, so he figures he’ll let it slide.

“Better,” Gerard says, rocking back, “yeah, yeah, like that, fuck, didn’t think it’d be this good.”

“What the fuck are you talking about,” Frank huffs into Gerard’s hair, trying to brace his foot so he can go at it harder, actually get some fucking friction.

“No, no, right there,” Gerard says, then, “yeah,” long and drawn out. “When you bump into my balls like that, that’s so good.”

“Jesus,” Frank mutters, and shakes his hand free of Gerard’s sweaty grip to press it hard to Gerard’s belly, hold him in place. That kicks it up a couple notches right away, and fuck, Gerard wasn’t lying, he’s heating up fast, and the space between his legs is getting slicker, the slide easier. And Frank’s hard, for real hard, getting off on all that naked skin pressed against his as much as the tight, hot space Gerard’s made for him. It’s pure sensation that’s driving Frank forward, that makes him haul Gerard in as tightly as he can, that doesn’t make him flinch away when Gerard twists partway around, their faces way too close in the dark.

“See, yeah,” Gerard says, thick and heavy, “feels good, right? I like it when you, yeah, like that, when it rubs over my asshole like that, makes me think about if you were really giving it to me.”

Frank’s been doing a pretty damn good job not thinking about that, but now he is, he’s thinking about it a lot, and Gerard keeps going, says, “It’s so fucking dirty. You’re gonna come all over me. Like porn only better, because you’re not gonna have to pull away for the money shot or something stupid like that, you’re gonna come on my balls, and my ass, and sticking your dick in my mouth should be dirtier, right? It should. But everybody does that. Blowjobs are fucking, so like, fucking, passe.”

“I like blowjobs,” Frank grunts. He’s digging his fingers pretty hard into Gerard’s hip, but Gerard’s not complaining, and the only downside Frank can see is the one where he can’t actually see the dents he’s making, or the angry red rush of blood just beneath the surface when he shifts his grip a fraction.

“Well, yeah.” Gerard groans, elbow shifting–he’s jerking off now, slower than Frank’s fucking him, like he’s trying to make it last. “Obviously. But they’re not dirty anymore. Coming on my fucking face, now that’s dirty, but I like the– I like the way you taste, Frankie. God, I’d like to fucking, just, I’d fucking shoot up with your jizz, it’s that fucking good, except for the needle thing and would you fucking slow down?”

“Shut up,” Frank grates, not slowing down at all, “shut up, shut up,” because he’s almost there, he’s gonna come, and he’s gonna do it so good, holy shit. It’s having somebody to hold onto, someone hot and sweaty and kinda fucking squirmy; it’s another person, right here with him, and it doesn’t even matter that it’s the crazy guy who wants to eat his heart with a rusty spoon.

“Don’t,” Gerard says, high-pitched, way too loud, “don’t, not yet, not– Aw, Jesus, Frankie!”

Frank’s too busy coming his brains out to give a fuck. He almost got his teeth sunk into Gerard’s shoulder in time, too, a nice big bite, but it hit him too fast so it’s more like he’s pressing bared teeth against skin, but whatever, it’ll do. When he’s got the chance, he thrusts a little more, really slicking up the insides of Gerard’s thighs, and fuck, that feels so fucking good. He wants to come again right fucking now.

“Fuck,” Gerard mutters, and blows hair out of his face. He starts groping around for Frank’s hand again. “Frank. Frank. Frank.”

What.” If he thinks Frank’s gonna jerk him off, he’s got another–

“Get your fucking fingers in my ass already!”

“Fuck you!” Frank barks, and shoves them in Gerard’s mouth instead.

Gerard goes weirdly limp. A low moan echoes deep inside his chest, reverberating around Frank’s fingers, and then he’s sucking on them really fucking hard, tongue wriggling between seeking out more salty tang. Frank belatedly realises he’s pretty much cradling Gerard against him now, Gerard’s cheek pressed damp against his. He thinks about it for a second, then a couple more, then mutters, “Fuck it,” and worms his other hand down between them, sliding his fingers through the mess on Gerard’s skin.

Gerard slurs something that sounds a fucking lot like, “Please,” and Frank’s already there, okay, that’s Gerard’s asshole his fingers are pressed against. He twists his wrist, gives a slow, steady push–not thinking about it anymore, not thinking about it–and sinks inside so easily it’s fucking criminal. It’s all tight, smooth heat, barely slick enough to fuck, but all he can imagine is his dick in there, Gerard pinned beneath him, maybe scratching up his back like all the fucking mooks in here already think happened, clinging and twisting and getting fucked so god damn good. He wants to thrust, push in, in, but he manages to do Gerard the favour of fingering him soft and easy, finding the spot that makes Gerard buck against him, hand flying on his dick, panting around Frank’s fingers in his mouth, clenching around the ones in his ass. Frank’s not even sure why he does it. The way Gerard’s jacking it, he’s gonna come pretty soon without Frank’s help.

And then Gerard’s body snaps taut, spring-loaded, ready to blow, and Frank’s so fucking glad they’re practically fused together. It feels really fucking good to feel Gerard go off, a chain reaction that’s ingrained in Frank’s brain as hot, so fucking hot, hot like porn is, like some chick with a nice rack in a low cut top, like making it to third base in high school when you still don’t have a fucking clue what you’re gonna do when you get there. Frank’s brain is fucking fried.

Gerard goes lax, humming under his breath. Frank gets stuck on the way Gerard’s calf is kinda prickly against his, this slippery, sticky kind of prickle, so it takes him a second to figure out that noise he’s hearing is Gerard’s muffled giggle.

“What now?” Frank manages, fighting off a yawn. No way is he gonna pass out like this.

Gerard’s giggle bursts out to a honking laugh that cuts off really fast, muffled like he’s got his hand slapped over his mouth. “Came all over the wall, Frankie.”

Resting his forehead against Gerard’s shoulder, Frank concentrates on breathing. He’ll figure out what the fuck he’s gonna do once he’s got a steady supply of oxygen lined up. “‘Course you fucking did.”

“Hey, at least there’s no wet spot,” Gerard says happily. He wriggles around like he’s planning on getting comfortable, and hell no, Frank’s got opinions about that shit, but what he ends up doing is mostly elbowing Frank in the gut and going, “Ugh, okay. I’m cold.”

“The fuck you want me to do about it?”

Gerard elbows him again, says, “Get up, get up, get up,” and doesn’t even give him a chance, clambering up and over, almost kneeing Frank in the junk. Frank curls up reflexively. Gerard pauses, awkwardly straddling Frank’s hips. After the count of three, Frank risks a glance up.

“I told you it would be good,” Gerard says, so fucking smug, and rolls away, slipping off the side of the bed before Frank can deck him.


Whatever Bosse’s got Gerard on, he’s mostly sober. Bosse wanders by the library one day, looking annoyingly self-satisfied to find Gerard perched in a chair beside Frank, and doesn’t even blink at the gorefest Gerard’s whipping up in Crayola red.

“That shit doesn’t scream ‘oh god, oh god, please help’ to you?” Frank asks before Bosse can slink away.

Bosse tilts his head to peer closer at the drawing. Gerard keeps on scribbling, locked in his own world. After a minute, Bosse says, “Not really, no.”

“Seriously.” Finger stuck in the book to keep his place, Frank lists sideways. To be fair, it’s not the grisliest thing Gerard’s ever drawn. Nope, those are tacked up on the walls of their cell for Frank’s viewing pleasure. This one is pretty simple, a dark, shadowy version of Frank propped up like a puppet on twisting, thorny vines. Blood seeps from Frank’s skin wherever they touch, deep, angry black swipes of crayon meant to show how deep they pierce. The fact that Gerard’s included a disturbingly detailed depiction of Frank’s hard dick pinned to his belly by them should be enough to send Bosse running for a shot of fucking something. Frank wouldn’t mind a fucking whiskey, that’s for sure.

“No,” Bosse says, resting his hand lightly on Gerard’s shoulder. Gerard doesn’t twitch. “I’d say we’re making excellent progress.”

Once Bosse is gone, Frank looks at the drawing for a long minute. Then he picks up his book again. “You’re fucking sick.”

Gerard blinks slowly down at his drawing. “Yeah,” he sighs, and adds more blood dripping from Frank’s pierced throat.


“Mikey’s gonna bust me out,” Gerard says, rocking back on his heels puffing away on one of Frank’s smokes. Which are actually Wentz’s smokes, and somehow ended up in Frank’s pocket. Frank’s not complaining, but he adds it to the mental tally of shit he already owes the guy.

“Mikey?” Frank asks on an inhale. “That dude who came to visit?”

“Yeah.” Gerard drops his butt on the ground and grinds it out with his heel. He hisses, “Aw, fuck,” as it singes through his shitty little prison-issue bootie, then turns wide, imploring eyes on what’s left of Frank’s smoke.

“Fuck off,” Frank grumbles, hunching protectively around it. “I already gave you one.”

“But the wind smoked half of it down on me!”

“Maybe if you’d fucking kept it in your mouth instead of blabbering at me,” Frank grumbles, but holds his smoke out long enough for Gerard to take a quick drag straight from his fingers.

“Whatever,” Gerard croaks, holding his breath. He’s still got his fingertips light on Frank’s wrist from where he held it steady. “He’s gonna break me out.”

“Sure, Gee.” There are a good three puffs left on Frank’s smoke, and he takes every last one of them while Gerard fidgets and bitches beside him. Frank’s gotta admit, it is pretty fucking cold out. Soon it’s gonna snow. “Fuck, my fingers are numb.”

“Oh, hey.” Planting a hand on the wall beside Frank’s head, Gerard swings around in front, legs braced wide around Frank’s feet. He waggles his eyebrows ridiculously. “Want me to warm you up, baby?”

Frank chokes on a startled laugh. “Jesus, you did not.”

“Payback for the smoke,” Gerard says, already worming a cold hand under Frank’s waistband. Frank catches it before he gets too far, and Gerard glances up, eyebrows drawing together. “Is that a no?”

“Didn’t give you the fucking thing so you’d blow me,” Frank says, squeezing too hard, the bones in Gerard’s wrist shifting beneath his fingers.

Gerard gives him a steady look, not trying to reclaim his hand. He finally says, “You know why I’m in here, right?” which is so far from what Frank was expecting Frank’s surprised into answering, “No.”

“I had this john,” Gerard starts, and something in Frank’s expression makes him say, “No, no, okay. I’m not talking turning tricks for a living. I had this whole lifestyle I needed to support, and that’s quick, easy money.”

“Lifestyle,” Frank echoes. Gerard just rolls his eyes like he’s heard it all before. “Okay, whatever. So?”

“So I had this john who tried to like, stiff me after he’d already stiffed me, if you know what I mean.” Frank gets that, yeah. But Gerard’s waiting for a nod or something, so Frank gives him one. “And I think I was on the tail end of a dry streak, so when this guy tried to make like he’d already paid me, I flipped out on him.” Gerard pauses to scratch at the underside of his chin. “Pretty badly, I guess, I don’t really remember. Anyway, I took all his cash and his credit cards and I rode every single last dollar as high as I could stretch it. Mikey said it was epic. I don’t really remember that part much, either.”

Frank’s opinion of this Mikey dude just hit rock bottom. “And that’s it, huh?”

“The whole sordid story.” Gerard laughs kinda self-depreciatingly. “Kind of a let down, I guess.”

“I bottled a dude in a bar fight,” Frank blurts.

“I know,” Gerard says, fussing with the cuff of his sleeve. When he can’t get it straightened out one-handed, he bites at it with his teeth and tugs. “You’ve got anger issues. Can I blow you now? I really want to suck on your nuts.”

“My nuts,” Frank echoes.

“Yeah,” Gerard says, heading south in a slow, controlled slide. “They’re, like, palm-sized. It’s really cool. I like them.”

“Gotta admit, they are pretty cool right now,” Frank says.

Gerard lets out that startled honk of a laugh, biting his lip as it trails off to a giggle. “Told you I’d warm ‘em up for you.”

Frank thinks about Gerard’s small, crooked mouth, the number of days he’s got left in here, and says, “What the fuck, go for it.”


The next day, Frank spends every single one of his allotted minutes in the visitor’s room with Ray. Ray even sneaks him Twizzlers this time, looking wild about the eyes, terrified that he’s gonna get caught and thrown in the slammer for aiding and abetting a criminal’s sweet tooth. Gerard’s not there, and he’s not in their cell when Frank gets back to it, or invading Frank’s corner when Frank goes out for a pre-dinner smoke. When Gerard doesn’t show up for dinner, Frank’s willing to admit that tiny niggle in the back of his brain might be slight concern.

“Didn’t see him,” Wentz says, picking through the mound of stringy french fries on his plate to match up all the ones of the same length.

“It’s fucking weird,” Frank mutters, poking at the greasy plate of crap in front of him. What he wouldn’t give for a fucking carrot stick. “Couldn’t fucking pry him off with a crowbar last week.”

“You got used, man.” Wentz pops three fries in his mouth at once. “Let him get all over your dick and now he’s done.”

“Ugh.” Frank drops his stupid plastic fork and shoves his plate away.

“Maybe you should’ve gotten him a hit,” Wentz adds, chewing thoughtfully.

“Fuck that,” Frank says. “Guy’s fucked up enough on the shit Bosse is dosing him with.”

Wentz pauses mid-chew.


“Don’t tell anybody, but, uh.” Wentz darts a glance sideways before scooting in close. “I thought you knew, okay. He’s your, y’know.”

“My bitch,” Frank says flatly.

“Yeah! But no. So anyway.” Wentz looks around again. Subtle the guy fucking ain’t. “Henderson’s pal, Park? You know him? The guy from the– Yeah,” Wentz says, nodding at Frank’s narrow glare. Yeah, Frank remembers the guy from the showers. The one that looked like he wanted to piss on Gerard’s face. “That guy. He’s been doling out on the side.”

“To Gee,” Frank says. Just to make sure.

Wentz nods once, tight and fast. “Blow for blow, fair trade. Seriously, Frankie, I thought you knew. I thought you set it up, for fuck’s sake. To get the guy off your case.”

“Yeah,” Frank drawls, “no. Tell me where they deal, Wentz.”


Frank fucking hates basements. This one’s worse than most. The ceiling’s barely taller than he is, and it’s crammed full of pipes and vents and a whole fucking lot of places for things like spiders to hide. He’s been fucking lucky he’s never pulled laundry duty down here. They’d have to lock him up for real.

Wentz said off corridor B, before the split. There’s corridor B, and there’s the split, but there’s nobody down here. Frank’s worried for a second that he’s being set up, but Wentz wouldn’t be the messenger boy in that scenario. Could be they’ve been and gone, and Gerard’s riding out his high somewhere slightly more hospitable, like the far side of the fucking moon. Frank’s about to call it quits when he hears one of Gerard’s quiet snuffles.

“Aw, fuck,” Frank says, hoping they didn’t beat the guy to a pulp for kicks. “Gee? Where are you, man?”

Frank doesn’t get an answer, but there’s another snuffle, baby-soft. Braced for the worst, from spiders to spilled guts, Frank worms his way behind a twisted mass of pipes. He singes his knuckles on one, hissing a curse. “You’d better fucking be in here.”

There’s a slow, indrawn breath, then, “Frankie?” in a voice like gravel over metal.

“Jesus.” Frank moves faster. Once he’s through, he spots a shaft of light coming from the other side. Obviously that’s an easier way to get in here, and the way Gerard comes and goes. ‘Here’ isn’t much, a tiny, stuffy cubbyhole, barely big enough to fit Frank and the heap of Gerard at his feet. Frank goes down as quick and careful as he can, running delicate hands over Gerard’s skull, throat, ribs, kidneys–all the tender, vulnerable spots–and doesn’t come up with anything bloodied or broken. Gerard’s eyes stay closed the entire time, mouth slightly open, his chest rising and falling with too-slow breaths.

“You’re okay,” Frank says, giving him a nudge in the ribs. He doesn’t respond, so Frank jabs him again, and again, grinding his knuckles into the tender bundle of nerves over his sternum. “Fuckface, look at me.”

Gerard’s eyelashes flutter. He says, “I’m okay, Frankie,” in that fucked-out voice Frank remembers from the shower. “Fuck, I’m– I’m so fucked.”

“Yeah,” Frank says. He breathes out slowly, trying to keep the rage brewing in his gut tamped down, but now that the worry is gone, there’s nothing there to bank it. He grabs onto Gerard’s wrist, along with a fistful of hair, getting ready to haul him up. “Yeah, you are so fucked, you got no fucking idea.”

Gerard’s eyelashes flutter again, but he doesn’t open his eyes. He flails uselessly at Frank’s arm when Frank starts to pull and starts making that other noise Frank remembers, the low, pathetic whimper that echoed so loud off the tiles.

“Shut up.” Frank sets his jaw. He gives a rough heave, but Gerard’s dead fucking weight, barely sliding an inch up off the floor. “Fine,” he grits out, and switches tactics, dragging Gerard toward the light. Gerard keeps whining, batting at Frank’s hands, kicking his feet in this vague, totally useless way. “Fine, bitch. Stay the fuck down there. Always fucking wanting to be on your back with your legs up, s’where you fucking belong, anyway.”

One of Gerard’s knees clangs hard off a pipe. Frank thinks, yeah, how’s that fucking feel, but Gerard doesn’t seem to notice, trying to curl up in a protective ball even while Frank’s tugging him in sharp bursts across the floor, probably dislocating Gerard’s stupid fucking shoulder while he’s at it.

“Frank,” Gerard gasps, eyes snapping open. It doesn’t last, some weird adrenaline burst making in through whatever the fuck he took. There’s finally enough light for Frank to see his face, and fuck if Frank wishes there wasn’t. He’s gone. Totally fucking gone. Rage boils straight up into Frank’s throat.

Going down on one knee beside Gerard, Frank digs the other sharply into Gerard’s gut. “You snort it or swallow it?” he asks, grabbing onto Gerard’s chin to make him face up. “I know you didn’t shoot it. You’re fucking useless even as a junkie. Afraid of fucking needles.”

Gerard struggles to open his eyes again. All Frank can see is bloodshot whites. There’s a sharp, metallic taste billowing out on the back of Frank’s tongue. “Get up,” he snaps, kneeing Gerard in the ribs again, rolling him onto his side. “Get up, fucking useless, limp-dick motherfucker, get up.”

Shivering, moaning way down low in his throat, Gerard doesn’t move. Frank wants to punch something really, really fucking hard. Like Gerard’s fucking face. He settles for grabbing it again, digging his fingers viciously into Gerard’s cheeks to wedge open his jaw. “Throw it up. Fucking puke it up like you did before, you stupid piece of shit.” When all Gerard does is moan and paw at Frank’s wrist, Frank gives him a brutal, teeth-rattling shake. “Fucking do it!”

Gerard’s back heaves like maybe he’s trying, but he’s not trying hard enough. Frank’s gonna fucking murder Park. Frank’s gonna string him up like in one of Gerard’s fucked up drawings, that’s what Frank’s gonna do. He’s burning so hot sweat stings his eyes, and his grip on Gerard’s face keeps slipping. It’s probably too late. Gerard probably snorted it all, anyway. But he’s never had the junkie sniffles when he got twitchy. His nose has never had that red, raw look Frank’s seen on the ones who go that route. So Frank makes sure Gerard’s not gonna choke too bad when it all comes up, holding tight to his hair to keep him steady, and jams a couple fingers down his throat.

Gerard bucks, back heaving again as he chokes on a thick gurgle. Frank holds on harder and keeps his fingers jammed deep, ignoring the sharp scrape of Gerard’s tiny wicked teeth on his knuckles. Then he thinks better of it and wedges his thumb in there too, keeping Gerard’s mouth pried open so he doesn’t snap Frank’s fingers clean off.

“Come on, come on,” he says, muscles burning from fighting to keep Gerard pinned and not hurt him, not for real. “Gee, just, let it fucking go, just– fuck.” Watching somebody hurl is bad enough. Being on top to feel them do it is fucking brutal, and worse still is the warm flood of bile that comes with it. Really seriously fucking disgusting. Frank can’t get his hand away fast enough, but the second Gerard stops heaving, he jams his fingers right back where they were, triggering another wave. And he doesn’t fucking stop until there’s nothing but dry, raspy choking, and Gerard’s crying, pleading with him to stop.

“Jesus,” somebody whispers. Frank’s gaze snaps up to land on Wentz where he’s standing a good dozen feet off, hands held up palm out. “I thought you were– Fuck, Frank. Motherfuck.”

Frank shakes bile off his hand with a disgusted grunt. “Shut up and fucking help me.”

Rubbing a hand over his mouth, Wentz says, “Yeah. Yeah, okay.” He gingerly couches on Gerard’s other side to help Frank lever him up.

Gerard’s totally out of it for the majority of the trip back, his head lolling loose on his shoulders. He fucking reeks, a stale underlay of old sweat and sex along with the sharp, acidic stench of bile. There’s another stink layered in there, too–drug-like, and every time Frank gets a whiff of it he wants to kill somebody.

It takes three whole corridors once they’ve made it to the ground floor for a guard to notice something’s off. “Get fucking Bosse!” Frank bellows at the guy, and either he’s already got instructions to do exactly that when it comes to Gerard or there’s something about Frank that makes him about-face and hightail it in the other direction, speaking rapidly into the mic at his shoulder.

“Wow,” Wentz says, red-faced and struggling under Gerard’s weight. “You got pull.”

“Fucking keep walking,” Frank growls.

Most of the guys give them a wide berth as they shuffle into the cell block. Frank’s willing to chalk that up to the smell–between the three of them now, they’re seriously rank. Beside, they don’t have to be all that close to watch the show. Wentz helps get Gerard to their cell, then onto the bottom bunk before he backs off, giving Frank space. Frank’s not even thinking about what he’s doing, stripping off Gerard’s soiled shirt, seeking out his pulse at both throat and wrist. Satisfied it’s going strong, he tugs a clean towel out of his own neat little pile and wets it in the stupid sink attached to the toilet. Something about cleaning the spittle flecking Gerard’s lips makes him feel a whole lot better.

Up until he hears the familiar thud of Bosse’s boots. Calmly sponging sticky bile off Gerard’s throat, Frank says, “You fucked up.”

Bosse lets out a heavy sigh. “I thought a small measure of stimulants to his system combined with a new focus would be enough to alter his habits. Evidently, I was wrong.”

Frank rocks from the balls of his feet to his heels and stands up slowly. There are three guards flanking Bosse. More are further back, herding inmates away from them. Frank’s pissed, but he’s not fucking crazy. He knows he’s outnumbered here. “You mean me. You thought you could get him addicted to somebody, instead of something.”

“Gerard is already prone to doing exactly that,” Bosse says, and it sounds like a fucking excuse. “It honestly makes no difference to him. He gets the same high either way.”

Flicking a glance down at Gerard’s slack face, Frank thinks maybe, just fucking maybe, he’ll buy that shit. Gerard is one weird fucking dude. “No more drugs,” Frank says. “If he asks you for help, fine, whatever, but don’t fucking volunteer.”

“Frank,” Bosse starts.

Frank clenches his fist so tight knuckles pop, but he doesn’t hit anything. It’s the most fucking monumental display of self-control he’s given since grade school. “No. You had your fucking chance. He’s not a god damn gerbil. Quit fucking with his head.”

Bosse gives them both long, measuring looks. Frank gets through it by imagining him choking on his own puke, see how he fucking likes it. Eventually, he says, “Alright, Frank. We’ll try it your way,” and signals the guards to move out. He hesitates before following them, glancing one last time at Gerard, and then he’s gone.

“Wow,” Wentz says. “Jesus Christ, Frank.” He’s looking at the pictures taped up all over the cell. “You guys are fucking hardcore.”

Frank heaves a sigh way too similar to the one Bosse gave. He’s got all this rage, all this adrenaline, still burning through his veins, and not a fucking thing to do with it. “Give me a few, would ya, Pete?”

“Yeah, okay,” Wentz says, already on his way out, hustling off some con dumb enough to try getting closer. “Chill, Frank. I got it.”

It’s too early for the cells to go into evening lockdown. Whatever the fuck Wentz does, Frank’s grateful–no lookie loos come sauntering by, no catcalls echo down the line. There’s just Gerard, breathing clear and steady, and Frank, sitting there next to the pile of dirty clothes he wrestled Gerard out of, wondering what the fuck he’s gonna do now.


“Hey,” Gerard says, gently shaking Frank’s shoulder. He sounds tired. “Hey, hey, Frankie, c’mon.”

Frank’s wide fucking awake, and has been since Gerard snorted his way into consciousness ten minutes ago. It’s maybe half past midnight by Frank’s count. Late, but not late enough. He thought Gerard would be sleeping that shit off until dawn at least.

“I’m awake,” Frank says. He carefully unkinks his neck from where Gerard’s crowded him high into the corner against the wall.

“You’re in my bed.”

“Yeah.” Frank draws in a long breath, lets it out nice and slow. “I figured it was safe. Pretty sure you left some stomach lining down in the basement.”

“Gross,” Gerard says, his face scrunching up in the darkness. “That was you down there?”

There’s not much space to roll over, but Frank manages it, mostly by jabbing Gerard with elbows and knees until he backs up. “You thought Park stuck around long enough to watch you OD?”

“No, I just–” Whatever it is, Gerard decides not to share, and Frank is absolutely on board with that plan. The jury’s still out on whether or not Frank’s gonna murder that son of a bitch in the morning. “That was fucked up, huh?”

Frank’s not ready to deal with any of this. He flops onto his side, dropping his arm heavily over Gerard’s middle. He mumbles, “Yeah, Gee, it was fucked up,” into a pillow that smells like Gerard’s hair.

Gerard doesn’t say anything for a long while, which is a miracle in and of itself, and something Frank’s gonna chalk up to almost dying in a fucking basement. That kinda thing wears a guy out. When he finally gets around to saying anything, it’s a slow, calm, “Okay,” and Frank echoes, Okay in his head, a couple times over.


Days later, while they’re being lead through the corridor from cafeteria to cell block after breakfast, Gerard says, “I had an art show once.”

Uncomfortable pressure settles in Frank’s chest. “Yeah?”

Gerard side-eyes him. He’s silent for a couple seconds, then he says, “You’ve got calluses on your fingers.”


Gerard goes quiet again, but Frank can feel the weight of his gaze. He’s sizing up Frank’s ink like it’s the first time he’s seen it. He’s putting it all together, the blank holes in Frank’s ears, the logos and the lyrics and the pieces that should be random but aren’t inked into his skin. It’s not like Gerard knows him. Gerard doesn’t know the first thing about him. But Gerard’s looking at him like maybe he does, and when they get back to the cell, Gerard goes for his bunk and his sketchbook without another word. Happy that bullet’s dodged, Frank clambers up into his own, running his gaze along the spines of the books jammed safely between his mattress and the wall a few times over before picking one.

After a couple hours, Gerard’s head pops up near his elbow. “They’re gonna open the cells for lunch soon.”

“Holy shit,” Frank says, carefully marking his place. “Are you actually fucking hungry?”

Gerard rubs his thumb over the dent his crayons have made above the joint of his middle finger over and over. “I think my metabolism’s kicked into overdrive.”

Frank’s not hungry at all. He’s especially not in the mood for the way Gerard’s looking at him. Fishing around the cobwebs of his brain, Frank says, “Bring me back something at least close to edible.”

Right away, Frank knows it’s not good enough. Gerard gets this vague sort of shadow in his eyes, hungry for something he’s not gonna find in the cafeteria. But Frank is not his fucking keeper, and he sure as hell isn’t the answer to the problem staring him in the face.

“Sure,” Gerard says, and shuffles his way over to the bars. He sags against them, sketchbook propped awkwardly in the crook of his arm so he can keep drawing.

It takes another ten minutes or so for the announcement to ring out and the cells to slide laboriously open. Once Gerard’s shuffled out into line with the rest of the cons, Frank drops his book with a grunt and rolls over. He’s tired, just not tired enough, brain on full alert but body heavy. As silence starts to settle over the empty cells, he focuses on the weight in his limbs, slowing his breathing in the hopes of dragging his brain down with him. It seems like a long, long time and not nearly long enough before he hears Gerard’s familiar shuffle.

Braced for Gerard to start bugging him again, he only realises Gerard’s settled on his own bunk once he comes around enough to notice the light outside is fading. He grunts and rolls over and slurs out a general approximation of, “Where’s my food?”

The constant rasp of crayon on paper that’s been filtering through Frank’s hazy dreams stops. Gerard’s silence stretches long enough that Frank thinks he’s forgotten the question. “Can’t bring stuff back here,” Gerard says, the sound of him sketching picking back up.

That is such bullshit. Frank’s smuggled so much crap in here it’s practically a 7-Eleven. He doesn’t know what the fuck he was thinking with the Ding Dongs, though. Not even Wentz touches those things. Seven months in here and they still haven’t gone stale. Fucking freaky.

Frank’s gonna bitch Gerard out about it, mostly because now he really is hungry, but he’s really tired, too. “Fucking flake,” he grunts in Gerard’s general direction, and rolls back over.


Over the next couple days Frank’s feeling stretched out and thin, but there’s no sore throat or tight chest to go along with the fuzziness in his head. Figuring it’s his body’s awesome reaction to all the Gerard-induced stress, he takes it easy, cuts his smoking time in the yard down by a whole two minutes, and decides that if it takes too much energy to get to the cafeteria at meal time, sleeping is a better idea. The fucking kicker is that it works. By the time Tuesday group rolls around again, Frank’s aces.

Gerard, on the other hand, is not. He looks haggard and worn slumped in his cheap plastic chair, skin a sickly grey, eyes sunken deep and ringed in black. Frank spends a couple minutes staring at him, fascinated. “What the fuck happened to you?”

“Shut up,” Gerard mumbles. He jabs his crayon a couple times at the mess he’s making of whatever he was drawing. After a couple beats, he adds, “Fuck off.”

Frank sits back, arms folded over his chest, and frowns. He’s been kinda out of it, sure, but not that fucking far gone. He’d know if Gerard was using again. He’d fucking know. And then it hits him this is what cold turkey looks like. Those noises he’s been hearing in his sleep haven’t been nightmares that he’s getting sick again, really sick like he used to, they’ve been Gerard fucking being sick. Detoxing, for real. On his fucking own.

Frank actually feels kind of like a shit. It’s not like it’s some strange new feeling or anything, mostly just unfamiliar in relation to somebody on the inside. He feels like a shit every day over what his family’s going through with him in here, and every time Ray gives him that look, the one that shows how much he hates that Frank’s got to deal with all this crap but he’s so grateful, too, because for some fucked up reason Ray thinks he’s got Frank to thank for bringing Christa to him.

But feeling like a shit for not paying enough attention to Gerard? That’s fucking new. “Huh.”


“What?” Frank spits back automatically. It takes him a couple extra seconds to figure out he’s still in group and Bosse is looking at him expectantly. He follows up that declaration of genius with a belligerent, “Whatever,” and tucks his chin against his chest. Out of the corner of his eye, he can see Gerard’s arm twitch occasionally, like he wants to be drawing but he just doesn’t have it in him anymore.


Tracking Gerard down when he doesn’t want to be found turns out to be harder than Frank thought. Frank’s so used to the guy just fucking being there all the time, it’s weird to turn around in the library and not see his stupid face. For fuck’s sake, it’s prison. Where’s he gonna go?

Frank puts a couple feelers out, but there are only so many guys he can afford to ask. If word gets around that he lost his bitch, he might as well glue a welcome sign on his own ass. Like hell he’s gonna turn into the original good time had by all over fucking Gerard.

Near evening lockdown, Frank calls it quits. He sorta expects to see Gerard in the cell when he gets there, but it’s as empty as it was when Frank came back from breakfast. Climbing into his bunk, arms tucked under his head, he wonders briefly if that Mikey guy really did bust Gerard out. What a fucking trip that would be, Frank turning this place upside down searching for a guy gunning it across state lines in a beat-up pinto while snorting lines off Mikey’s ass.



In the morning, Gerard’s back like he’d never been gone. Frank stares down at his hunched shoulders, his messy black hair, and says, “What the fucking fuck.”

Gerard jumps so hard he bangs his elbow off the bunk. He says, “Ow”, rubbing at it as he twists around to peer up at Frank. “Oh. You’re up.”

“Where the fuck were you?” Frank snaps.

“Uh. Here?”

“The fuck you were. I was fucking looking for you.” Frank can’t believe he’d actually thought maybe Gerard had gotten out, prison-break style.

“Yeah,” Gerard says, mouth quirked. “Well, whatever.”

Whatever? Whatever? “Fuck you.”

“Later.” Gerard hunts around through his crayons for a minute. “Still kinda woozy.”

“No, seriously, Gerard.” Frank is so fucking pissed, and he’s not sure why he’s pissed, and that just pisses him off even more. “Fuck you.”

“Okay, Frankie,” Gerard says, totally ignoring him. Frank hopes he chokes.


Sometime around noon, Frank’s simmering rage starts to mellow out to weird fascination. No matter how many times he tells Gerard to fuck off and die, Gerard just gives him this look like he’s a kitten learning how to walk or something, all fondly amused, and goes back to whatever the fuck he was doing before Frank cussed him out. Instead of driving Frank crazy like it should, it’s turning into this whole big thing Frank can’t let go.

“Straight up,” Frank says, and waits until Gerard’s eyebrow crooks in the way that means he’s paying attention even while he’s focused on his art. The cafeteria’s hollow noise doesn’t seem to grate on him like it used to. He draws everywhere these days. If he ever showered before somebody made him, Frank thinks he’d try to bring it in there, too. “What the fuck is the matter with you?”

“I’m an alcoholic,” Gerard says evenly. He squints critically as he shades in the slant of Frank’s jaw. “Or an addict, depending on who you ask. But generally I’m only into the drugs when I can’t get the booze or can’t sleep.”

“Yeah, I get that.” Frank scratches at his chin, as if watching Gerard sketching it on paper is making it itch. “But there’s gotta be more to it, man.”

Gerard stops drawing. This time he’s done an artful rendering Frank on the floor in pieces, his grinning head by his hip, his hand flipping the bird propped up by his calf. Frank should probably be disturbed, but mostly he’s just thankful Gerard left his junk alone. That’s what he calls progress.

When Frank glances up, Gerard’s smiling at him. Not a big distorted grin, or that crazy smirk that shows the sharp edges of all his teeth. Just a smile, kinda lopsided, secretive. The back of Frank’s neck prickles.

Staring straight at him, chin propped in one hand, Gerard happily asks, “What the fuck’s the matter with you?”

“I am so not crazy enough for this shit,” Frank mutters into his juice.

“Or,” Gerard counters, picking up a bright blue crayon to sketch in the open sky above Frank’s corpse, “you’re just crazy enough.”

Now that one Frank’s maybe more willing to believe. “Grass is green, dude.”

Gerard keeps scribbling away with yellow and brown and red. “Only on the other side.”


Gerard’s not asleep. Neither is Frank. He’s pretty sure they’re both pretending they are, though, which is a new kind of fucked up. Gerard’s probably on the verge of being sick again–the worst of it’s over, according to Bosse, but Gerard’s been in various stages of really fucked for a long, long time, so his brain really hasn’t caught up to what his body is telling it–and Frank’s worried tonight’s the night Gerard’s not gonna make it to the john in time and finally choke on his own puke. It’s fucking nerve-wracking.

Frank shoves up on one elbow. “Fuck this,” he mutters, scrubbing both hands over his face. “Fucking fuck this.”

“Jesus,” Gerard hisses. “Fucking scared the shit outta me.”

“Are you gonna be sick or what?” Gerard’s been sick every fucking night this week. It’s fucking brutal to listen to, but at least Frank hasn’t had to hold him through it again like down in the basement.

There’s a long pause. Slowly, Gerard says, “No?”

“Then why the fuck aren’t you fucking sleeping?”

Another pause, then, “You really wanna know?”

No. “Yes.”

Gerard scrambles up, Frank’s mattress dipping as he props himself on the edge. His face is all of three fucking inches from Frank’s. His breath smells like cheap toothpaste. “I can’t stop thinking about sex.”

“So jack it and fucking go to sleep already,” Frank grumbles.

“I mean actual sex, Frank,” Gerard says. “The kind with two people. And not to limit the definition of sex to the exclusion of certain lifestyles, but the kind that involves getting my dick in someone.”

Frank barks a laugh. “Dude, you could not fucking pay me enough.”

“That wasn’t a fucking proposition,” Gerard says irritably. “You barely even have as ass to get up in. I’m just saying, since you fucking asked, that’s why I can’t sleep.”

Scowling at Gerard’s shadowy face, Frank says, “You can’t reverse-psychology me into getting fucked.”

Gerard flaps his hands around. “I’m not trying to! Jesus Christ, you asked. Besides, I wouldn’t do it like that. I’m a better fucking lay than stick it in and go, fuck, gimme some credit.”

“You fucked people for money,” Frank’s compelled to point out.

“In no way does that suggest I wasn’t good at it. In fact, it totally implies the opposite.”

“Uh huh.”

“Fuck you,” Gerard says, and levers himself up. “Roll the fuck over.”

Frank cracks up, laughter bouncing way too loudly off the walls before he manages to put a lid on it. “Yeah, ’cause that ain’t a proposition.”

“I’m not gonna fuck you,” Gerard says, getting handsy. Frank punches him in the arm, but he just grunts and dives for the blankets again. “Are you fucking chicken or something, afraid I’m gonna make you wish I would?”

“Last name’s Iero,” Frank says. “Not McFly. Good try, though.”

“At least get your dick out so I can suck it.”

Frank barely remembers the details of where and when Gerard last blew him, but fuck yeah, does he remember how good it felt. Still, he warily eyeballs Gerard’s shadowy outline. “You’re gonna try something.”

Gerard snorts. “Seriously, you tell me I’m fucked up. Not into coercion, remember? I just want to get my mouth on you.” He slaps Frank’s flank. “So roll over already. Up on your knees.”

Frank rolls his eyes. “That is so not how you suck dick.”

“How the fuck d’you know how I suck dick? If I want you on top of me while I do it, then that’s what I fucking want.” Gerard gives him another slap. “Plus, you can’t keep grabbing my head this way. Don’t give me that fucking look. You are so that asshole.”

Frank yanks at the drawstring of his pants. The very first thing he’s gonna do once he gets out of here is sleep fucking naked under a heap of blankets with the heat cranked. “You try to cram one finger in me when you think I’m not paying attention, I’ll fucking snap it off.”

“That kinda sounds like you’re bragging,” Gerard says, fumbling to take over pulling Frank’s clothes off. He shoves both hands under Frank’s shirt while Frank’s still kicking free. “Oh god yeah. Skin. I fucking love skin.”

“I’m gonna wake up to a portrait of you wrapped up in my skin like a blanket while I’m bleeding out beside you, aren’t I,” Frank says, and waits until Gerard’s firmly on his back before swinging a leg over, kneeing his way up, Gerard scooting further down on the bed to meet him.

Gerard stops mid-wriggle, hands on the backs of Frank’s thighs. “Wow,” he says, sounding grudgingly impressed. “You are now. Grab a pillow.” Groping through the dark, Frank drags his flat excuse for a pillow down and folds it over once before stuffing it under Gerard’s head, just so the angle’s better for him and Gerard’s less likely to scrape his dick to shit. “Awesome,” Gerard says, shaking his hair back and pulling Frank in.

Frank was totally giving Gerard a free pass on the asshole comment, because yeah, Frank is that guy, and he knows it. It’s not his fault Gerard keeps his hair so long it tangles perfectly around his knuckles, or that Gerard never fucking combs it out and all the knots get caught and tugged. Gerard nearly fucking loses his shit every time it happens, anyway. But Frank maybe hadn’t really given enough thought to the difference this position would make. If Gerard’s bitching was all about Frank’s dick shoved too far down his throat before he was ready, he seriously miscalculated.

“Jesus,” Frank grates, fisting his hands tighter in thin sheets, fighting to keep his balance, and maybe a little to keep from driving his dick straight in there. The way Gerard’s licking all around the head isn’t helping, but the rough hold Gerard’s got on his nuts sure as fuck does. He’s not going anywhere Gerard doesn’t fucking want him to, not as long as he wants to keep those attached. “You’re kinda fucking sadistic.”

Gerard hums, lips pressed in a closed-mouth kiss to the shaft, then slides down to nuzzle at the crook of Frank’s thigh. “Too tight?” he asks, loosening up enough to give Frank’s sac a sucking kiss, sharp and shocking enough to make Frank grunt. He laughs quietly before giving another lazy lick. “Not tight enough?”

“Thought you were gonna fucking suck it.” Frank risks unclenching the blankets to make a grab for Gerard’s hair. He makes it about halfway there before Gerard laughs, low and ridiculously sultry, and sucks hard on the head, sending Frank’s hand slamming back down. Then it’s a scrape of teeth, which Frank is not into, he is so not fucking into it, but it makes him shudder hard, just once. Gerard’s going down, really down, swallowing tight and fast to get Frank wedged in deep. He stays like that for two thundering beats of Frank’s heart, struggling to swallow, then tears free, face pressed to Frank’s junk, panting open-mouthed as he messes them both up with sloppy kisses.

Frank’s shaking so hard he can see the muscles in his arm quiver. “What the fuck.”

Gerard just gulps down air, gearing up to go down again. Frank sucks in a breath and holds it, and holds it, pulse pounding in his head. His fucking skull is gonna explode all over Gerard’s gory drawings. Nobody outside skinflicks does this shit in real life. Fucking nobody. It’s too fucking good. The god damn economy would collapse because everybody would be too busy getting off. Frank is gonna get off right fucking now.

“Fucking told you,” Gerard gasps out, nuzzling at Frank’s junk. He scoots down lower, really pushing right in there, licking and sucking and it’d be fucking foreplay except for the really steady, methodical way he’s jacking Frank’s dick. Frank is totally at peace with the realisation that he’s humping Gerard’s face. And the one where he’s gonna come all over it in about three seconds.

A sharp bite to the inside of Frank’s thigh startles a curse out of him. He stares down through the shadows at Gerard, the tilt of Gerard’s head and the tickle of his breath against wet skin letting Frank know he’s staring right back. “I’m not done yet,” Gerard says matter-of-factly.

“I almost fucking was,” Frank growls.

Gerard’s, “I noticed,” drifts up soft and wry. He licks the bite that’s still throbbing, not so much an apology as smugly pointing out that he got away with it. His hands slide up to cup Frank’s hips, guiding, and Frank ends up shuffling awkwardly for a couple frustrating seconds until he mutters, “Fuck it,” and lets Gerard lead. He’s not exactly sure how that ends up with him practically fucking sitting on Gerard’s face, Gerard’s arms looped around his thighs to keep him there. He’s fucking glad nobody else can see his face right now.

“I knew you were gonna– motherfuck.” Frank flails stupidly, looking for something to grab onto. An actual headboard would be fucking nice; he’s gotta stretch out too far to grab the bar at the head of the bed. Gerard’s gotta be crammed up in the worst fucking angle ever down there, but he moans like it’s heaven, like Frank’s fucking ass in his face is the best thing to happen to him in his life, and yeah, of course he wants to stuff his tongue in it, why the fuck wouldn’t he.

Frank bites back the noise that wants to come bubbling up out of him to say, “You suck” with about as much venom as he can manage while trying not to blow his load like a punk kid getting touched for the very first time. Gerard hums agreeably, shocking another thin, reedy noise out of Frank, and then he finally gets around to the sucking for real. It just happens to be Frank’s asshole his mouth his on, not Frank’s cock.

“Oh, fuck you,” Frank groans, rocking back. He’s got his dick fisted tight, practically fucking choking he’s so close to losing it. “Fuck you so fucking much.”

Gerard drops back to the sheets with a muffled oof. His hair tickles the side of Frank’s leg as he works a kink out of his neck. “I could stop.”

Punching the bed, Frank barks, “You just fucking did!”

“Nah,” Gerard says, scooting out from between Frank’s legs and rising up on his knees. Frank twists around to try to keep him in sight as much as the darkness allows. “I mean for real stop. C’mon, Frankie.” His hand touches Frank’s shoulder, a warning that earns him a twitch before he presses close, chest hot and sweaty against Frank’s back. His dick, hard and totally fucking naked, digs against Frank’s side. “Lean down for me. I just wanna kiss you.”

Frank says, “Kiss my fucking ass, you mean,” but he’s doing it, dropping down onto the palm of one hand, then his elbows, chin tucked tight against his chest. He barely hears Gerard’s quiet, “Oh god,” but he feels it, fuck, does he feel it, whispered right against the meat of his ass. He pretty much expects Gerard to go for it, jam a couple fingers in, maybe his dick right off the bat, because like this, ass up, chest to the sheets? Yeah, it feels like Frank’s asking for it. But what he gets is the brush of damp, chapped lips ghosting down his spine, strong fingers digging into his hips, his ass, spreading the cheeks so Gerard can nose back in there, breathe deep, and lick.

Once he’s figured out Frank’s not going anywhere, his hands slide up Frank’s back, then all the way down again, curling under to touch his belly and the tops of his thighs, wrist bumping into the hand Frank’s still got curled tight around his dick. He worms his fingers between Frank’s, ignoring the warning Frank tries to choke out, to start jacking him right at the root, and seriously, Frank would be okay if Gerard would stop fucking touching him. Frank wouldn’t be this shaking, moaning mess from just a guy’s tongue in his ass, never mind how fucked up and weird and fucking good it feels, wet and soft inside him, if Gerard wasn’t all fucking over him at the same time. Gerard’s not even working him over fast enough to really make him think he’s gonna blow it, but next thing he knows his balls draw tight, Gerard groaning like he can feel it, and this thick, dizzying pulse surges through him, coiling tight in his nuts and spilling out through his dick. Somehow he’s got a chunk of his pillow caught in his teeth, muffling the noises that push their way out of him as he comes so hard he can’t even feel his fucking fingers anymore.

“Oh god, oh fuck, Frank, Frank,” Gerard says, slurred against Frank’s skin, his hands still moving, tugging and holding, squeezing when Frank jerks. “Don’t move, please don’t move. You feel so fucking good, I just gotta– I’m not gonna, but I gotta–” He breaks off with a ragged groan as he drops heavily onto Frank’s back, knees rudely shoving Frank’s legs wide, his hands clawing at Frank’s chest. Frank chokes on air. Then he chokes on the spit he accidentally inhales when Gerard lines their hips up, Gerard’s dick sliding slick and hot between the cheeks of his ass. Frank’s so fucking startled by Gerard’s dick dragging over his hole he loses his balance when Gerard fucks hard against him, sprawling out flat on his face. Gerard rides him down and keeps fucking, arms bracketing Frank’s head, forehead pressed to Frank’s shoulder, mouth running the whole fucking time, crazy filthy shit broken by stuttered gasps and once, just once right before Gerard loses it, he says really clearly, “Fuck, babe, you are so fucking hot.”

Face shoved into the bed, legs spread wide with Gerard fucking shooting all over him, Frank cracks right the fuck up. Gerard bites at the back of his neck, making him scrunch up, but he can’t stop laughing. “I’m not your fucking girlfriend,” he wheezes.

Gerard grunts irritably and doesn’t move. “But you are really fucking hot. And a good lay!”

“Jesus,” Frank rasps, knuckling his eyes dry. A couple crazy giggles escape between breaths. “You’re insane.”

“But also a really good lay.” Gerard shuffles a little to the side and settles down again, comfortably sprawled on top of Frank. “You came so hard you squeaked.”

“Because you’re fucking crushing my ribs.”

“You have intimacy issues,” Gerard says, mouthing lazy, post-coital kisses to Frank’s shoulder like he’s planning on hanging around for awhile. “That’s okay, though. Nobody’s perfect.”

Frank tries to lever up on one elbow. Gerard growls and clings harder, but more than that, Gerard is actually really fucking heavy, and Frank’s never been at his best after sex. He gives up after a couple decent attempts and settles for twisting partway around to fix Gerard with a look out of the corner of his eye.

Gerard shrugs like it’s nothing, but his voice is lacking the usual jibe when he says, “Nobody lives forever either, you know.”

“M’still not sleeping in your fucking jizz tonight,” Frank says, and pretends he doesn’t notice the tension seeping from his own shoulders where Gerard muffles a laugh between them.


“A bank,” Frank says slowly, his breath frosting the air.

Wentz sighs and pushes the cards in the Go Fish pond around dejectedly. He’s the only one who didn’t bitch when Gerard ponied up a full pack of smokes for the right to choose their game. That Gerard’s got the energy for something other than shaking his way through dextoxing to dig up a fucking pack of smokes and give a shit about anteing in knocked Frank so far back on his ass his own bitching was kinda lamely half-hearted. The sketchbook hasn’t disappeared entirely, but these days, Gerard’s doing a lot more than drawing. Mostly, he’s doing Frank. “Yeah. I wanted to get her a ring. A really nice ring.”

“That was dumb,” Gerard says, squinting at the cards in Frank’s hand. “Got any threes?”

“Fuck,” Frank mutters, and fumbles one over, fingers made clumsy by the thick gloves he bummed off a guard. It’s almost too fucking cold to be out here, but inside was making his skin crawl. Besides, Gerard’s down to two cards; it’s not like the game’s gonna last forever, and he wants a fucking smoke. If he asks, Gerard’s probably gonna share the winnings with him, but it’s the principle of the the thing.

Wentz sighs. “Yeah.”

“You should’ve knocked over a pawn shop.” Gerard pauses to chew on his cuticle, then narrows his eyes at Wentz. “Got any sixes?”

Wentz is staring at him, mouth hanging open. “You’re right.”

“Of course I am.” Gerard snaps his fingers imperiously. “Gimme your six.”

Not even blinking, Wentz hands it over. “No, I mean you’re really fucking right. Why the fuck did I think buying a ring with stolen cash would fly? I should’ve just stolen the ring!”

“And if it’s from a pawn shop, chances are good it was stolen to begin with,” Gerard says. “It’s like wearing a second-hand fur coat. You’re not exactly helping the cause, but you’re not directly funding the slaughter of innocent little forest creatures, either. Last card.”

“Don’t let the first thing you do when you get outta here be caught holding up a pawn shop, Wentz, for fuck’s sake.” After some hit and miss, Frank’s got four cards left. It’s only round one and Wentz somehow has eleven. If he can keep Gerard fishing, that pile of smokes is all his. “Your woman didn’t even show up to your trial.”

Gerard winces. “Ouch. Gimme your jack, Frankie.”

Frank doesn’t blink at the jack of diamonds sitting smack in the middle of his hand. “Why’re you so sure I got one?”

“Same as I know Mikey’s gonna get me outta here before Christmas. ‘Cause he is, and you do.” Gerard lays down his last card, the jack of hearts, and taps it twice with a fingertip. “Cough it up.”

“Mikey Way?” Wentz perks up, tossing his cards into the pond like it’s game over. “Holy shit, dude. I know him! We were Pumpkinheads!”

Frank stares. “You were a fucking groupie?”

“Elitist groupies,” Gerard corrects. “Mikey’s got taste.”

Frank turns wide eyes on Gerard. “He’s your fucking brother?”

“Yeah,” Gerard says, exchanging a look with Wentz.

“And he’s gonna bust you outta prison.”

Another look. Wentz leans conspiratorially close. “You think he can get me out too?”

“Jesus Christ,” Frank says, disgusted. He shoves his jack at Gerard. “You’re all gonna end up being chased through a swamp by Federal Marshals and dobermans.”

“Don’t worry, Frankie,” Gerard says, smoothly sliding his pair of jacks into his neat little pile and scooping up five more cards. “I won’t leave you behind.”

“I ain’t going anywhere with no fucking swamps.” Frank scowls at his cards. Chances are pretty good Gerard just scooped up an ace. Nobody’s called out for a matched ace yet.

Wentz says, “What about me? Dude, you can’t fucking leave me there, that’s cold.”

“Glacial.” Gerard grins his tiny little psycho grin at Frank. “Got any aces?”

“Motherfucker,” Frank spits.

“The Fisher King!” Gerard cries, fist in the air.


It’s not like Frank was really suffering on the inside before Gerard stumbled along, but the days don’t have the same long, drawn-out drag as they used to. Not much has really changed except for the measuring glances Bosse sends their way, and the fucking staggering amount of head Frank’s been getting. Fuck if he’s complaining. He’s been sleeping like a baby every damn night.

So when he wakes up after a good solid eight hours with a familiar tightness in his chest, he figures, nah, no way. Couldn’t be. He fought off this bitch cold weeks ago. By breakfast, he’s fine. He crashes out a little after noon, but that’s no big surprise. Prison is fucking boring.

The next day it’s more of the same, except visiting hours start at ten. Frank shrugs on a jacket, ’cause it’s fucking chilly living in a giant lump of concrete and brick, and shuffles down the corridor with the rest of the cons lucky enough to have somebody who gives a shit. Gerard’s right behind him.

“Frank!” Ray says, same as he always does, and stands up to haul him in for a tight, back-slapping hug. “Sorry I couldn’t make it last week, man, I had– Hello?”

“Hi,” Gerard says to his sketchbook. He twiddles his fingers in a wave and keeps drawing.

Frank rolls his eyes. “Whatever. Like I fucking want to see your mug every damn Sunday.” He knees Gerard in the side. “Shove over.”

Not looking up, Gerard obediently scoots over a couple inches. Frank swings a leg over the bench and settles down, then gives the table in front of Ray a slap. “C’mon, sit down. Tell me all about what a good man Christa’s turning you into.”

Ray grins stupidly, scratching at his head through a mess of fluffy curls. “If you ask her, I was already a pretty good catch.”

A mirror image of Ray’s grin threatens to take over Frank’s face. “See? I fucking told you.”

“Yeah,” Ray says. He gives a happy, satisfied sigh, his eyes getting that slightly glazed, far-away look to them.

“You’re really in love,” Gerard says, startling Ray like a rabbit. He still hasn’t looked up from his drawing. “That’s awesome. Congratulations.”

“Thanks,” Ray says automatically. His momma would be proud. He forehead wrinkles, and he gives Frank this curious look like he thinks Frank’s gonna explain what the fuck Gerard’s doing. Then he sticks out his hand. “I’m Ray.”

“Gerard,” Gerard says, sketching busily. “It’s okay, you don’t have to talk to me.”

“But,” Ray starts. He gives Frank another one of those looks. Frank shrugs. Like fuck he knows shit about what goes on inside Gerard’s head. Ray’s entire forehead crinkles up like Frank’s grandpa’s. “But, uh. I mean–”

Gerard finally glances up. His eyes are big and round and bruised-looking, like he hasn’t really slept in a while. Frank frowns, ’cause that’s not right. Gerard usually crashes out faster than Frank does after he blows his load. “Frank’s sick.”

“What the fuck!” Frank barks, but it’s no good. Ray’s head whips around and his palm’s slapping to Frank’s forehead before Frank’s got a chance to even fucking blink. Frank tries elbowing him off, but Ray’s got fucking orangutan arms.

“You’re kinda hot,” Ray says, mouth all screwed up.

Frank mutters, “Thanks,” and finally bats him away. “I’m not–”

“You were coughing all night,” Gerard says, peering at him with tired eyes half-hidden by the mess of his hair. “All night, Frankie.”

Ray’s on his feet scanning the visitor’s room. “Do you guys have a doctor in here? Maybe if we get him on something before it gets a chance to settle into his lungs–”

“Don’t fucking talk about me like I’m not right here!”

“Sorry, Frankie,” Ray says absently, rubbing Frank’s shoulder and digging his stupidly long fingers right into the kink that’s been bugging him since yesterday. Frank does his best to bristle through the wave of sudden relief, but his spine’s already conspiring against him, crumpling like a house of cards.

Gerard’s on his feet too. “Does he get really sick a lot? Was he one of those kids? He’s kind of tiny, but I thought that was just, y’know, Frank.”

“I really fucking hate you both,” Frank grumbles, fighting to keep his eyes open. If Ray would just fuck off with the fucking awesome neck rub, he’d be able to find his fucking balls and stand up for himself.

“He doesn’t look too bad yet, maybe we caught it in time.” Ray gives Frank’s shoulder one last really good squeeze. “I’m gonna go find somebody to talk to. Be right back.”

Before Frank can remind his legs that yeah, they’re attached to his body and they’ve gotta do what he fucking says, Gerard’s hands take the place of Ray’s. Gerard’s not as good as Ray, not quite finding the exact spot, and maybe pinching a little too hard, but he manages to keep Frank on his ass. “He’s a really good friend,” Gerard says.

“Yeah,” Frank mumbles. Fuck, he is tired. Stupid fucking Ray. “I’m gonna punch him later and feel like a total dick about it.”

“That’s because you are a dick,” Gerard says, scratching his nails through the hair at Frank’s nape. “But maybe he’ll bust you outta here like Mikey’s gonna do for me, so you can say you’re sorry then.”

Frank rests his head on his folded arms. He’s not sick, but he’d bet his last smoke Ray’s gonna feel ten times better about shit if he thinks he’s helping Frank out here. So Frank’s just gonna keep his mouth shut and let Gerard dig bony fingers into his spine, and let Ray freak out at somebody over Frank’s lack of an immune system, and once he’s on the outside, he’ll make Ray pick up the tab on the biggest fucking welcome-home party the shitty little dive near his old place can handle.


That evening, Frank can’t fucking breathe. He barely remembers being marched up to visit with Dr Galloway and her awesome rack, so he’s maybe willing too concede that yeah, maybe he caught something. But it’s not like he’s gonna fucking die. He takes the pills she doles out and goes back to his cell and firmly ignores Gerard standing right beside his bunk staring at him worriedly.

Fifteen minutes later, when Gerard still hasn’t gone the fuck back to his own bed, Frank says, “M’not gonna fucking die, fuck off.”

“Fine,” Gerard says huffily. “But if you do, I’m gonna be really pissed.”

Frank snorts.

“You say that now.” There’s a familiar rustling from down below as Gerard settles in. “But when you’re a lost and lonely ghost and I’m the only one who believes in you, you’re gonna be really sorry.”

“Not a fucking ghost,” Frank says, and dreams that night that he is, only Gerard can’t see him. Gerard knows he’s there, talks to him like he can hear Frank talking back, but he can’t see him, can’t touch him, and seven years later when Gerard’s finally getting out, he won’t go, clinging to the bars and screaming how he wishes he were a ghost at somebody who’s supposed to be Mikey but doesn’t look a thing like him. Frank wakes up soaked in sweat, wheezing so hard his lungs are on fire. It takes him a couple seconds, but he manages to roll over and squint down through the darkness to see the lump of blankets and Gerard curled up tight against the wall. It doesn’t really make him feel better, but he’s tired and woozy and if he tries to move again, he’s probably going to throw up. He passes out with his chin hooked over the edge of the bed and his hand slung over the bars like he’s gonna give it a shot anyway.


When Frank wakes up again, it feels like his head’s stuck in a toilet. He drags in a watery breath and starts coughing before he’s even halfway through it. Heat explodes over his face, his neck, skin tight and burning and feeling like it’s going to burst. Gerard starts yelling his name like an idiot, howling it at the top of his lungs. Frank tries to get the air to tell him to shut up already, and failing that, give him the finger so he’ll get the fucking message, but he can’t even lift his head.

“Frank!” Gerard screams. There’s a scuffling sound, then a heavy metallic thud. Frank cracks one eye open but all he can see are white sheets. “Open the fucking door! Open the door! Let me in!”

That’s weird enough to get Frank to open both eyes. Still, all he gets for his trouble is a half-decent view of generic scuffed tile. More voices join Gerard’s, low and steady, but Gerard steamrolls right over all of them. Somebody cries out.

“Get the fuck away from me,” Gerard snarls over a heavy rattle. “Just open the door. I just want you to open the door. Just open the fucking door!”

“Gee?” Frank tries to croak out. It doesn’t even sound like a word. He struggles to sit up, wondering what the fuck is the matter with him. Maybe those pills Galloway slipped him were something way stronger than Benadryl. He tries again, louder, and dissolves into another wracking cough.

Gerard’s voice pitches higher. Frank tries to fight his way through the coughing, even though he knows it won’t help. He doesn’t know what the fuck is going on here. His heart’s pounding so hard it hurts. “Don’t– Don’t come near me with that thing. I’m not gonna– Frank! Jesus fucking– Get the fucking– No, no, no!”

“It’s alright!” Bosse bellows. “Gerard, stop! He isn’t going to– Give me that!”

Gerard screams. He fucking screams, loud and terrified and real, like somebody’s fucking killing him all of five fucking feet from Frank’s bed. Frank grits his teeth and heaves upright, the whole room swimming. There’s a mass of bodies outside the bars. He lists towards the wall for support, only to find it’s gone.

“What the fuck,” Frank rasps, fumbling for something to hold onto. “What’s– Where the fuck—”

“It’s alright,” Bosse says, carefully measured. Gerard gives a strange hiccuping sob. “Open the door.”

Gerard says, “Frankie, Frankie, they–” and detaches from the blur of bodies. He stumbles through the bars, pale and shaking, clutching at his arm. The bed jostles when he bumps into it and he goes down hard. Nobody makes a move to help him. Grabbing onto the sheets, he hauls himself unsteadily to his knees. “They fucking stuck me, Frankie.”

“A mild sedative,” Bosse says, keeping his distance. “You were going to hurt someone.”

“I wasn’t,” Gerard says, his knuckles gone whiter than the sheets. “Fuckers moved you while I was sleeping. They just fucking took you away. They weren’t gonna let me see you.”

Frank manages to drag in one slow, almost-steady breath. His heart’s still beating way too fast. He doesn’t remember anything except his dreams. Gerard keeps staring at him, swaying on his knees like he’s gonna pass out. “Fuckin’ nuts,” Frank wheezes.

Gerard gives him a lopsided grin. There’s a smear of blood on his arm when he moves his hand away, groping through the tangled sheets like he’s looking for Frank’s. He finds Frank’s thigh first, and squeezes hard. He’s shaking worse than Frank is. “Mikey’s gonna get me out. He’s gonna get you out, too. They can’t hide you from me. It won’t work. I’ll get you out.”

Frank is too fucking exhausted for this shit. He takes a couple seconds to find Bosse in the cloud of dispersing uniforms outside the infirmary cell. When he’s sure his lungs can handle it, he asks, “You gonna leave him here or what?”

“Dr Bosse,” Galloway starts gravely.

“It would be more trouble to move him than to leave him,” Bosse says. “We can’t keep him sedated in his cell the entire time Frank is in recovery, Dr Galloway. It’s simply not practical. And,” he continues when she makes a noise like she’s going to interrupt, “Gerard is still in recovery himself. His body is in no condition to handle such treatment.”

“That room is not equipped for two inmates,” Galloway insists. “There’s a reason patients convalesce here instead of in the cellblock.”

Bosse sighs. “Janet, do you really want to fight me on this? Whatever you think about my methods, I know him.”

Gerard sluggishly turns to face the open cell door. He blinks a couple times, his eyes dark and unfocused. “I won’t get in the way. I’ll behave. I won’t even–” He stops and breathes deeply, like it’s taking almost as much effort for him to get air into his lungs as it is for Frank. “No more needles.”

“Fine,” Galloway says. Frank wishes they’d both fucking shut up. He’s tired, their voices are fucking drilling holes in his head, and he doesn’t fucking care. “But if my patient shows no improvement by morning, we’re moving him. I will fight you on that, Dr Bosse.”

“Agreed,” Bosse says. Gerard’s grip on Frank’s thigh tightens. “I highly doubt he’ll be much worse. Officer Zhang, could you please arrange for one of your team to be present at all times? I’m sure that will help ease Dr Galloway’s mind.” Over an affirmative and the crackle of a radio, Bosse says, “You’d best get some rest while you can, Frank. I’ll see you in the morning.”

Bosse hangs around a minute like he expects Frank to say thank you, then heaves another one of his disappointed sighs and shuffles around to deal with Galloway. After securing the door, one of the uniforms takes up a post right outside it, just out of reach. For the first time, Frank takes a real good look around. The cell is one in a line of three, tucked into the corner. Two solid walls, two made of bars. The main examination room sits between them and Galloway’s office on the far side. This far away from all the other inmates, it should feel more private. It doesn’t.

“Are you gonna fucking sleep on the floor?” Frank asks, shrugging out of Gerard’s hold.

Like he’d forgotten he was already kneeling on it, Gerard looks sadly down. “Guess so. Pretty sure I’ve slept on worse.”

“Shut up,” Frank says, and scoots his ass over a couple inches. “Don’t fucking crush me in my sleep.”

“But,” Gerard says, and shoots a nervous glance at the guard.

“Fine, whatever. Sleep on the floor.” Frank resolutely closes his eyes. He’s gonna sleep for a week. “I don’t fucking care.”

“If anybody’s gonna shiv you, they’re gonna do it now,” Gerard mumbles. The blankets get tugged on, but the mattress doesn’t shift like Gerard’s climbing up. “I better stay down here.”

“Whatever,” Frank repeats, but the next time he wakes up, it’s to darkness and Gerard huddled close, muttering in his sleep about spoons. The last thing Frank thinks before he goes under again is that this place is a fucking cakewalk if they’re gonna let Gerard get away with that shit.


On the third day of Frank’s stay in the infirmary, while Dr Galloway’s taking his temperature and frowning at the little red line like she thinks it’s lying, Gerard says, “You know, I never get sick.”

“Good for you,” Frank mumbles around the thermometer she insists on stuffing back in his mouth.

“No talking,” Galloway says. “I would like an accurate reading this time, please.”

Gerard squints at the doc. He opens his mouth, glances at Frank, then closes it really fast. He goes back to doodling on the napkin that came with his lunch while Galloway takes Frank’s pulse old school style. Frank really pointedly rolls his eyes at her.

“Your fever’s broken,” she says, ignoring him to check the thermometer again. “I’m keeping you here for another night to be certain.”

“It’s okay, doc,” Frank says, settling back down on his mound of flat, stiff pillows. “I know you just like having me here ’cause I’m pretty.”

Galloway gives him an eyeroll of her own. Gerard doodles harder. Frank smiles winningly. He knows she’s laughing on the inside.

After she’s gone, Gerard says, “That would probably work better if she stuck it in your ass.”

“Aw, man,” Frank says. The fucking guard’s right there. “Fuck you.”

Gerard adds some angry red slashes to his napkin. “Maybe if she fucking paid attention in the first place, you wouldn’t have almost gone into a fucking coma.”

“Don’t you have fucking group or something?”

The crayon goes straight through Gerard’s napkin. He snarls at it, like it’s the fucking napkin’s fault he’s freaking out, and viciously rips it in two. He takes hold of one tattered edge like he’s gonna rip it again but stops cold. Taking one deep breath, he puts the napkin carefully back onto his meal tray, then looks up at Frank. Doesn’t say anything, just fucking looks.

Frank closes his eyes and folds his arms, getting comfy for a nice afternoon nap. It’s not like he cares if Gerard gets bent out of shape over some harmless flirting. He didn’t fucking ask Gerard to be here. Fuck knows he’d sleep better if Gerard would quit crawling into his bed in the middle of the night.

“Okay,” Gerard says, voice low. “Okay.”


The yard is buried in three feet of snow. Even if Frank’s lungs were up to handling it, the last thing he wants to do is go out in the cold. It’s been three days since his last smoke, sucked down so fast he barely got a chance to enjoy the curl of nicotine through his blood, and it’s seriously starting to mess with his vibe.

Worse than that cooped-up feeling settling into his bones is the fucking silent treatment he’s getting from Gerard. The first night Frank spent back in their cell, Gerard was all fucking over him. Hands and mouth fucking everywhere. Frank did his damnedest to keep up when it started, but–and he’s gonna be honest here–five minutes in, he sat back and took it, and he doesn’t feel one bit bad about it. If Gerard wants to do all the work in getting them both off, more power to him.

But then, sweat cooling and come drying tacky on Franks’ belly, Gerard rolled right off and went to bed. Didn’t even attempt a cuddle under the flimsy guise of being too fucked out to move. Then the whole day after, and every one since, whether he’s got a hand stuck down Frank’s pants or not, he doesn’t say a fucking word. It’s driving Frank crazy. Frank even tried dirty talking him the other night, right in close against his ear trying to get him to admit how bad he wanted to come, how much he’d love Frank’s hand on him when he did it, and nothing. Fucking nothing. Barely even grunted as he shot all over Frank’s knuckles. And then he fucking got up and went to bed like Frank wasn’t sitting there half-hard with a handful of come.

“Maybe just say you’re fucking sorry,” Wentz says with a shrug.

“I didn’t fucking do anything,” Frank insists.

“What’s that got to do with it?” Ellseworth chimes in. When Frank gives him a look, he echoes Wentz’s shrug. “Hey, I don’t give a shit about the guy. He can cry in his Wheaties every morning from now to doomsday for all I care. But he’s your ticket to early parole. Fucking suck it up and apologize.”

“I’m not fucking sorry,” Frank snaps, and snatches his tray off the table to go dump it. “Both of you go suck each other off somewhere I don’t have to watch, Jesus.”

Frank sets out for the cell block, ready to get his coat and brave the cold, but he ends up headed down Block D towards the library instead. Whatever, he’ll check out the new arrivals bin. Maybe some rich schmuck looking for a humanitarian of the year nomination has donated something worth reading since he last time he looked.

When he gets there, Gerard’s perched in his chair, bent low over a sketchbook that’s obviously seen better days. The edges are tattered, the wire bent flat; pages are taped and stapled and still falling out. Before Frank can get close enough to see what kind of massacre is on the menu today, Gerard’s head snaps up. He slams the book shut and slaps it on the table.

“That’s new,” Frank says. “I figured you’d be delighted to show me how many pieces I’m in this time.”

Gerard glances at the con carefully sliding books back into the shelves. He looks back at his sketchbook, then the naked crayon in his hand, the bits of blue wax stuck under his nails. “I don’t wanna blow you right now,” he says. “Come back later.”

“I’m not here for a fucking blow,” Frank says, scowling.

“Okay, whatever.” Gerard gouges another chunk out of his crayon. “What d’you want, I’m busy.”

“It’s a fucking library,” Frank snaps. “Maybe I wanted a fucking book.”

“So go fucking get one.”

Frank’s fist clenched tight. Gerard’s gaze jumps down, his chin lifting slightly, asking for it. If he doesn’t fucking watch it, Frank’s gonna give it to him. If Frank didn’t have something riding on this, maybe he already fucking would’ve. “What the fuck is your problem?”

Gerard’s eyes narrow dangerously. A tiny electric spark lights up the base of Frank’s spine, travels all the way up to prickle hotly at the nape of his neck. He’s been waiting for this. It’s been a long, long time coming.

But instead of coming at him with fists and nails and teeth to try to tear him apart like in those fucked up drawings, Gerard carefully pushes his chair away from the table and stands up. He doesn’t grin, doesn’t smile, just calmly says, “Let’s go fuck,” like he’s letting Frank know it’s cold outside.

“I thought you weren’t in the mood,” Frank sneers. His fists are clenched so tight his fingers ache, and he hates that he’s hard, really spectacularly hard, ready to go. He wants his teeth in Gerard’s throat, his dick fucking finally buried deep in Gerard’s ass, the thin, pale skin on the insides of Gerard’s wrists purpled with bruises under his fingers.

Gerard’s gaze slides pointedly down. “You are. So let’s go.”

It should be easy to say no. It’s not even about the sex. If Frank tells him to fuck off, he’ll come crawling back in the middle of the night, cold hands reaching under Frank’s blankets, warm mouth wet and open. But Frank jerks his chin at the door and Gerard smiles, snake-slick, and leads the way.


They don’t fuck. What Gerard said that first night about not wanting it with only spit has held true all this time, and even if it would be pretty easy for Frank to get his hands on some lube, what they’ve been doing has been satisfying enough he doesn’t want to deal with the mess otherwise. He’s thought a couple times about trying it in the shower. It’s not like they’ve got privacy when they fuck around at night, but doing it right out in the open like that, bright lights and beady eyes, doesn’t really turn his crank.

When Gerard leads the way down to the basement, to the fucking little cubbyhole where he used to deal, Frank thinks maybe they’re going to this time. What he doesn’t expect is for Gerard to crowd him up against the wall face-on, arms bracketing his head, and fucking stare at him.

“Fucker, what?” Frank spits, trying to shove Gerard back so he’s not up on his fucking toes.

Gerard shakes his head slowly, that slick smile still on his face. “You can be really stupid sometimes, you know?”

Frank draws off, sick of this shit, sick of not even knowing for sure what fucking shit this is, and sucks in a hissing breath when Gerard catches his wrist. He loses another scrap of air on a curse as Gerard shoves his arm flat to the wall. Gerard’s smile cuts deeper. The light down here is weird, kinda surreal. Frank’s dick is killing him. He doesn’t even bother trying to twist out of Gerard’s grip. “We gonna talk it out, or are we gonna fuck?”

“I know you don’t believe me,” Gerard says, same as if Frank hadn’t even opened his mouth, “but I’m getting out of here. So I don’t know, Frankie, are we gonna talk it out? Or am I gonna fuck you one last time so you got something to remember me by?”

Frank’s lips peel back in a snarl. There’s some shit right there that he’s sick of hearing. “You stupid shit, you’re not getting out. You got a two-year sentence for fucking aggravated assault.”

Gerard’s smile turns nasty. “Extenuating circumstances.”

Now Frank’s fucking ready to brawl. He wrenches his arm free, twisting his body to bring his heel down hard on the inside of Gerard’s ankle. Instead of stumbling back, Gerard lurches forward, slamming Frank’s back hard against the wall. Not prepared for it, Frank’s head snaps back, hits the brick with a sharp crack. The dizziness swims up fast but he breathes through it. Before he gets a chance to return the favour, Gerard’s on him again, knee shoved between his legs, strong fingers wrapping around his throat, his jaw, forcing his mouth open as teeth scrape his lips.

It’s stupid, but that’s what makes him stop. Breath goes stale in his lungs as Gerard pushes harder, tilts his head so their mouths meet, slot together. Then there’s no tongue, no teeth, Gerard’s fingers softening, holding instead of gripping. Gerard stays there for a long minute, pressed so close Frank can feel his heartbeat thundering through both their chests, and when he pulls back, stuffy basement air rushing in to take his place, Frank doesn’t move. He’s slumped against the wall, mouth wet with Gerard’s spit, and he can’t bring himself to open his fucking eyes.

And then Gerard’s back, holding his face and kissing him like it’s some scene out of Hollywood, except this time there’s the sweet wet slide of tongue on Frank’s lips and a sharper scrape of teeth that jolts all the way down to his fucking toes. Frank’s eyes finally snap open. All he can see is the dark blur of Gerard’s hair and the outline of shadowy pipes behind him. Gerard keeps kissing him harder and harder, like he’s trying to shock Frank out of the stupid stupor he’s shocked him into in the first place. It’s not working. All Frank wants to do is hang on and let it keep happening. The pressure of Gerard’s thigh against his dick isn’t anything to write home about but it’s fucking amazing anyway.

“I’m a creep,” Gerard says on a shuddery breath.

Frank’s system is feeling pretty battered, what with the fuck-fight-what the fuck going on, but he’s got enough presence of mind to figure that doesn’t really jive. He manages a, “What?” that doesn’t sound too strung-out for his pride.

A crazy giggle bubbles against Frank’s lips. “I, fuck. I did this while you were sleeping. Just once!” he shouts, grabbing at Frank’s arms when Frank jerks back. “You passed out, like, right after I blew you. And you were fucking gone. I really wanted to.”

Frank yanks a hand back through his hair. “You fucking made out with me while I was sleeping.”

Gerard’s gaze cuts sideways, but he doesn’t look one bit sorry. He looks really fucking turned on. “Yeah.”

“With my dick all over your fucking mouth.”

“Yeah,” Gerard repeats, biting at his lip. “It’s better this time.”

Frank’s pretty sure the only logical response is to crack the fuck up. Gerard stays pressed close the whole time, fucking sniffing Frank’s hair or mouthing at his ear, Frank doesn’t even fucking know. And he doesn’t care. His whole life got fucked the day some drunken dickhead decided no didn’t mean fucking no. Maybe it was fucked long before then, living in a world where he gets thrown in the slammer and the woman he tried to protect can’t even press charges. He’s got no job when he gets out of here, no place to live, broken pieces of a life and a disappointed family to face. It’s all fucked. It’s all really, really fucked.

“It’s not so bad, Frankie,” Gerard says, lips soft and chapped on the slant of Frank’s jaw. “That’s gotta be worth something, coming from somebody as royally fucked up as me.”

“Oh Jesus.” Frank swipes at his face with the back of his arm. “Fuck me, it kinda does.”

“See?” Gerard says, bumping Frank’s cheek with his nose. “Baby, it’s not so bad.”

Before the noise burbling in Frank’s chest gets a chance to leak free, he tangles a fist in Gerard’s hair and yanks him in again. It doesn’t really stop the sound from escaping, but it’s easier to pretend neither of them heard it while he’s got his tongue in Gerard’s mouth and Gerard’s hand is slipping into his shorts.


“Okay,” Gerard says, patting down his pockets like he’s making sure he’s got his wallet and his keys. All his pictures are piled neatly on his bunk. His crayons and his sketchpad are in a separate pile; he doesn’t need those where he says he’s going. Frank’s pretty sure he’s going out of what’s left of his mind, but hey, he’s not gonna judge. “Okay. Wow. I’m really nervous.”

“I hear a jailbreak’ll do that to a man,” Frank says as he turns the page.

“Ha ha fucking ha,” Gerard snarks. He goes to the sink to pick up his toothbrush, then shakes his head and puts it back down. It’s the third time he’s done that. “I know it really hasn’t been that long, but it’s gotten really nice in here.” He peers earnestly up at Frank. “You’re in here.”

“Yep,” Frank says. He hasn’t really had a chance to read the words in front of him, but he turns the page again anyway. “Gonna be for awhile yet.”

Gerard’s by the bunks in an instant, grabbing at Frank’s hand. Frank rolls his eyes and lets him take it, trying not to laugh as he clutches it dramatically to his chest. “I’m not going back on my word, Frankie. I’m gonna fucking get you outta here.”

“Uh huh,” Frank says, twisting so Gerard doesn’t dislocate his shoulder when he yanks Frank closer.

“I fucking mean it,” Gerard says darkly. “I’m coming back for you.”

“Jesus,” Frank says, losing the fight against his laughter. He shoves up, scooting forward so he’s sitting on the edge of the bunk. Gerard shuffles in between his knees, a worried crinkle between his brows. He still won’t let go of Frank’s hand. “Okay, okay, you win. You’re not gonna leave me here to die alone. Can I read my fucking book now?”

Gerard’s mouth drops open a fraction. “You’re not gonna come see me out?”

Choking back another chuckle by clearing his throat, Frank figures, why the fuck not. It’s not like it costs him anything to give the dude a moment of glory. He puts on his Sunday best, ’cause fake contrition is about as close to distraught as he’s gonna get, and says, “Can’t. It’ll break my fucking heart to see you go.”

Gerard’s face screws up hilariously, this awesome combination of him knowing, fucking knowing, that Frank’s fucking with him, and the sweet, earnest hope that Frank means it. For a second, Frank kinda feels like a dick. But once the guards march Gerard’s ass back inside in time for breakfast he’ll have forgotten all about that. Maybe Frank’ll even blow him again, just so he doesn’t waste the whole night wallowing. They’ve got a good couple of months of lost make-out time to make up for. Seriously, when you look at the guy, how are you supposed to fucking know he’s that fucking good with his mouth? Blowjobs are blowjobs, whatever, but fuck, Gerard can kiss. Frank feels like he’s back in high school some days, ready to cream his shorts from tasting Kraft fucking Dinner on Gerard’s tongue.

“Dickface,” Gerard says fondly, and fucking yanks Frank down so hard he almost slides off the bunk. And then he almost slides off it again, because Gerard’s trying to melt his fucking spine with his tongue. Feeling kinda overwhelmed and a little pissy about it, Frank kisses back harder. Which obviously means Gerard’s gotta step up his game, and fuck no, Frank’s not letting that shit fly, so next thing he knows he’s stumbling around fused to Gerard’s stupid face while the pre-recorded announcement is calmly asking them all to step away from the bars.

“Fuck,” Gerard says, shoving Frank back a step. “I’m really gonna fucking miss that.”

“Fucking right you are,” Frank says, and wipes off his mouth. He shrugs his shoulders to try to settle back into his skin.

Cons starts shuffling out of their cells. Gerard looks around, worried, then snatches up his pile of drawings. “Conjugal visits,” he says, carefully folding them and tucking them down the front of his shirt. “I’ll be back for those.”

Frank lifts a brow. “Thought you were gonna bust me out?”

“Well, yeah, but that’s gonna take some time.” Darting a quick glance at the guards, Gerard swoops in for one last kiss, more teeth than anything but still almost good enough to knock Frank back on his ass. “Just wait for me, okay?”

“Babe,” Frank says, mostly because it’s fucking gold the way Gerard lights up, “where am I gonna go?”

“Right,” Gerard says. He pats down his pockets one more time. “Right, okay. I’ll see you really really soon.”

“Sure will,” Frank says, and saunters on out to take his place in line.


“Wait. Wait a fucking second.” There’s no way Frank’s hearing this shit right. “He what?”

“He’s been released,” Bosse says.

“Released.” Frank thumps back in his chair. No way. No fucking way. “But–”

Bosse pushes his glasses up on his nose. “I find it very hard to believe Gerard kept this information from you. He’s certainly manipulative enough, but it would hardly help him accomplish his goals.”

“He said his fucking brother was gonna bust him out, not that he had a god damn parole hearing!”

“Frank,” Bosse says, too calmly, “Gerard’s brother is a very accomplished lawyer. I’m sure he never intended for his brother to be incarcerated in the first place.”

A lawyer. A motherfucking lawyer. “Motherfucking fuck me.”

Bosses eyebrows shoot up half an inch. “This will most likely work in your favour as well, you know. I’m sure Mr Way is reviewing your casework as we speak, if he hasn’t already.”

Frank furiously scrubs both hands over his face. He can’t fucking believe this shit. This is crazy. Gerard’s out.

“I’m sure he’ll do what he can to come back and see you, Frank,” Bosse says, resting a hand lightly on Frank’s shoulder. “In the meantime, perhaps you should consider what you’re going to do when he does.”

Good question. ‘Cause right now, Frank’s thinking he’s gonna deck the son of a bitch.


On Frank’s first night alone, he pretends Gerard’s bunk doesn’t even exist. He crawls up into his own, turns his back on the cell, and stubbornly closes his eyes. It’s too fucking quiet. Frank never fucking noticed how much noise Gerard made when he slept, snuffling and sighing and rolling over every five minutes.

The second night, after he’s shuffled his way through the day on about two hours’ sleep, he sits his ass down on Gerard’s bunk and picks up the abandoned sketchbook. Maybe if he takes a page out of Gerard’s book and draws a couple really gory pictures detailing exactly how he feels about this stunt, he’ll sleep better. That plan lasts right up until he opens the book. There’s not a single blank page left in it. Barely even any blank space. Every single inch is filled with the type of art that makes Frank believe Gerard once had a showing. More than once. Most of them are simple portraits, but there’s something stylised about them, too perfectly imperfect, like a comic book. Frank flips through page after page of his own face sketched out in Crayola blue, brick red, summer green. How the fuck has he never seen any of these before? There’s one of him in the cafeteria, face scrunched up laughing as he points at somebody else’s plate, and fuck, he remembers that day. He remembers it so clearly, but he can’t place Gerard in the scene. He never even knew Gerard existed until weeks after that day.

By the time Sunday morning dawns, Frank’s a fucking mess. He doesn’t know what the fuck anymore. Zhang swings by his cell to inform him that he’s got a visitor around ten. Frank shuffles through after him on autopilot. He doesn’t know what to do.

But it’s not Ray waiting for him in the visitor’s room, it’s Gerard’s brother. Mikey fucking Way. Frank’s back is up instantly, and yeah, okay, he likes that. That’s familiar. He knows how to deal with this kinda thing. He doesn’t care if Mikey doesn’t look impressed as he saunters over to take a seat. Frank’s not here to impress anybody.

“I’ve got one question,” Mikey says by way of greeting.

Sprawled on the bench like he just doesn’t give a shit, Frank says, “Shoot, cowboy.”

“Do you love him?”

Frank can’t keep the shock off his face. Of all the shit he was expecting, the rage he thought was gonna come flying his way over the shit he did to this guy’s brother, that sure as fuck wasn’t it.

“I don’t care if you’re in love with him or not. I don’t care if it’s something you’re going to fall out of, or that’ll fade away, or if it’s like a brother or a friend or two guys who went through the same hell.” Eyes hard, Mikey leans in. Frank totally believes this guy is a shark in the courtroom. “Just tell me, do you love him?”

A nicely mellow calm settles onto Frank’s shoulders. “You know what?” he says. “Fuck you. Fuck you, and fuck your fucking brother too. Who the fuck d’you think you are, waltzing in here asking me that shit? Where the fuck were you when he got tossed in here in the first place? When he was fucking turning tricks to get crack?” Frank’s on his feet and he doesn’t remember standing up. He’s up in Mikey’s face, but it’s like he’s not really there at all. All he’s got in front of his eyes is a whole bunch of shit he wishes he never saw, shit he wishes never happened. Shit nobody fucking deserves. “So fuck you. Fucking fuck you.”

About an hour later, Frank’s up to his neck in pissed-off regret. It’s not his fault the fucker totally ambushed him with that shit. What the fuck was he supposed to do, stand on the table and declare his undying love for a fucking nutjob? He could’ve. He fucking should’ve. Forget if there’s any truth to it at all, that doesn’t matter. He could’ve gotten out.

He could’ve gotten out.


The real fucking sad part is that it only takes about a week for things to go back how they were. Frank doesn’t exactly keep his head down, but no trouble comes flying fist-first his way. Some days he really fucking wishes it would. But even with Gerard out of the picture, Bosse is still more or less in his corner, so he doesn’t go out of his way to stir up some shit just to settle the uneasy crawl of his skin. He reads, Ray visits, he keeps his mouth shut in group, he goes to bed in an empty cell and jerks off with the smell of Gerard’s hair clinging to his pillow. It’s so fucking pathetic he hates seeing his own fucking face in the mirror.

But he doesn’t put a fist through his reflection like he wants to so fucking badly. He sneers at it, turns his back on it, and waits for the next day to come.


Wentz shuffles his winnings into a haphazard pile and antes up for the next round. Frank’s got three packs of smokes left, one his own, two he found hidden underneath the foot of Gerard’s mattress. They’re slightly worse for wear, but nobody in here is picky. Least of all Frank.

“So,” Wentz starts, and Frank says, “Don’t fucking even. Deal.”

“Good idea,” Wentz says. “How’s that working for you?”

Frank knuckles at his eye. He knew he should’ve stayed the fuck in his cell. It’s been over a month and he still hasn’t gotten a reassignment. Either Bosse is pulling strings again, or there’s not much call for bunks at the Warden’s fine minimum security establishment. Frank knows which one he’s willing to put money down on. “You really wanna start that shit with me now?”

“Nope, not really,” Wentz says, and finally deals the fucking cards. “But word is lil’ bro busted him out of the big house, and I’m completely serious about commissioning those very stellar services.” He slaps down the last card, face-up. Four of spades. Frank glances at his hand. Fucking brilliant. “I figured you could hook me up.”

“Yeah,” Frank drawls, tossing his hand in. “No.”

Wentz stares at the scattered cards. He gestures at the pile, at Frank, at the common room at large, like any other con in here gives a shit. “What the fuck is this?”

“Shitty hand,” Frank says, and pushes half a pack of smokes Wentz’s way. “I fold.”

Wentz is still sitting there when Frank stands up and walks away. “That’s your fucking problem, Iero!” he shouts at Frank’s back. “Right there, that’s your fucking problem!”


Officer Zhang steps up to the open bars of Frank’s cell. “Got a visitor,” he says.

Frank sits up, confused. There’s less light on the bottom bunk. He thinks he conked out for awhile. “S’it Sunday?”

“Nah, Tuesday.” Zhang raps on the bars. “C’mon, Iero.”

Shrugging, Frank follows Zhang through the quiet hallways. It finally quit snowing this morning, Zhang tells him, so most of the guys are out in the yard. Frank blinks at the windows set high in the walls. He didn’t even realise it’d started.

“Here you go,” Zhang says, taking up a post outside one of the rooms Frank hasn’t seen since he first got tossed in here. He used to meet with his shitty court-appointed lawyer in there. He sure as fucking hell hopes it’s not that jackass waiting for him.

“Mr Iero,” a tall, slim woman says when he enters. She stands up, hand held out. Frank takes it by pure habit alone. “There are only a few things we need to take care of today. I should have these filed for you by Thursday.”

“Back the– Back up a minute here,” Frank says. “What?”

“I apologize for the delay,” she goes on, expertly shuffling forms out of folders into a neat row. She produces a pen out of thin fucking air. “There were some frustrating inconsistencies in your original casework. Sign here, please.”

“No, seriously,” Frank says, staring at the platoon of pages in front of him. “What am I signing?”

The woman smiles like a shark. “The conditions of your release, Mr Iero.”


The day Frank steps outside the gate, it’s well below freezing. His breath steams on the air and dirty, ice-caked snow crunches under his boots. For the first time in eighteen months, Frank’s wearing boots. He’s in jeans, a too-thin sweatshirt, and a hoodie he’d forgotten he owned. The one he wore the last time he was outside is probably still in an evidence lockup somewhere. He takes a second to let that sink in. His clothes are in lockup; he isn’t.

Seventeen feet from the gate, an old Trans Am sits in the middle of the icy blacktop. Gerard is standing by the passenger side door wearing tight black jeans and a motherfucking poncho and the biggest fuzzy mittens Frank’s ever seen, half his face eaten by a pair of retro-looking sunglasses. His hair blazes candy-apple red in the winter sunshine. When he takes a step away from the car, his boots skid on the ice. His laugh rings out high-pitched and nervous, but he keeps on going.

“Hi, Frankie,” he says only after he’s made it halfway across the treacherous lot.

Frank’s got his shoulders hunched, hands jammed into his pockets. His nose is so cold it feels like it’s running, but when he sniffs, there’s nothing. “Guess this is the first chance you got to visit, huh.”

The smile barely clinging to Gerard’s mouth falls. “I wanted to.”

Frank jerks his chin up defensively. He’s pretty sure that’s Mikey Way sitting in the driver’s seat. No chance that’s his car, though. From the too-perfect graffiti painted on the hood down to the dirty chains lashed to the tires, it’s Gerard’s. “Lemme guess,” he says. “You had to keep your nose clean.”

“Well,” Gerard says with an uneasy shrug, “yeah.”

“And this–” Frank nods sharply at the prison looming behind them “–ain’t clean enough for you?”

“I’m an alcoholic,” Gerard says, and it sounds like he’s been saying it a lot lately. Not accusingly, or like he’s feeling sorry for himself, but like it is what it is. “And I’m a drug addict. But you.” He stops, fills his lungs slowly, lets them empty just the same. “You’re nobody’s crutch, Frank.”

Now that one sounds like an accusation. Frank sets his jaw, ready to say fuck this shit. But Gerard’s still standing there quietly like he used to, waiting to see what Frank’s gonna do. When Frank does nothing, he drags in another one of those measured breaths. “I’ve been sober for five months. Don’t say congratulations,” he says quickly, Frank’s mouth barely open. “I’m not telling you so you’ll be proud of me, or to make you believe in me. I’m telling you ’cause it’s true.”

Frank is proud. Frank does believe in him. Frank is a whole lot of things he never thought’d he’d be. “That it?”

Gerard’s eyes go hard but his mouth softens on the sliver of a crooked smile. It’s like a whole new Gerard wearing the old one’s skin better than he thought he could. “I’m not here looking for a crutch.”

“You got any idea what you’re here looking for?” Frank asks, but it doesn’t even have half the bite of the winter air. He’s got Gerard’s sketchbook tucked under one arm and Gerard hasn’t looked at it once, but he knows it’s there.

“No,” Gerard says, and he’s smiling, really smiling now, “but I think I found it anyway.”


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