It started the first time Mikey decided to take the eyeliner from Gerard and draw it over his lid. It wasn't as easy as it looked and Mikey wanted to scream a few times, cried a little, maybe, reflexively, when the pencil stuck him in the eye, but when it was all done, he looked in the mirror and saw a boy who wasn't wholly, traditionally himself and for the first time in his life, didn't want to look away. Not immediately, anyway.
So it made sense, really, to buy the tube of lipgloss that was on sale at one of the Walgreens in one of the towns they stopped in at three in the morning, just to let themselves off the bus for a few minutes. It was barely colored, a shiny red that was more lip-shade than anything else.
It was simpler to apply than the eyeliner and it made him want to kiss somebody, but the only people around were his bandmates, and that seemed like bad planning.
Everything came one step at a time--the powder that was so good at hiding the acne that never, ever seemed to leave him be; the shoes that he found in a section of the thrift shop where he was not supposed to have wandered. They hurt his feet, but they made him feel graceful, like his height wasn't something to hide behind a guitar and maybe a few amp stands.
He didn't plan any of it, not really, not more than seeing a google ad for corsets on the side of one particularly raunchy email from Bob and clicking and thinking, "Huh, I wonder."
He certainly didn't plan for Frank to walk in on him that night, the night when he was so certain all the guys were out, seeing people, doing things, busy. Unavailable to interrupt Mikey.
So he started from the top with the classic, dependable eyeliner, and a savage sweep of mascara. There was the line of blush that he had learned could make his cheekbones dangerous, the swipe of lip-gloss, the careful drawing of lip-liner.
It was slow work fitting himself into the corset, drawing the stockings cautiously over his legs, his knees, hooking the clasps to them.
He looked down, and the legs that had always, always been just a bit too long--coltish was the word that came to mind--weren't so bad. They were. . .shapely, maybe. Something more than just limbs.
He slid into the shoes, almost used to the pinching of his toes, the odd upward slope forced upon his arches.
He was looking in the mirror, taking the moment, thinking, hello, just hello, nothing else, when he heard the click of the door, saw Frank in the mirror before he could turn.
"Um," Mikey said while spinning around, because really, he probably should have locked the door connecting their rooms, but Frank had said he was going out. He had.
Frank said, "I should have knocked."
Mikey couldn't breathe, the corset tighter than it had been moments before, too tight, and he was about to say, "Just, just don't tell them, okay?" when Frank asked, "Could I, you know, fuck up your lipstick?"
Mikey blinked. Frank stepped closer, just a little. He said, "Please don't say no."
"Why would you--"
Frank reached him, placed his hands over Mikey's shoulders--they were warm, Mikey hadn't realized he was cold, but evidently, yes--and turned him back to the mirror.
"Jesus Christ on a Cracker, Mikey."
"How long have you been holding out?"
"I don't know what the hell you're talking about."
"You have to know how fucking hot this is." Frank's voice was low and convincing in his ear, and the tension in Mikey's spine bled away just a bit. Frank said, "C'mon, just a little kissing. Then I'll stop, I swear."
"Why would I agree to that?" Mikey asked, wishing his voice was a little bit steadier, a little bit deeper.
"I'm a good kisser," Frank said. "And a man of his word."
"Why," Mikey clarified, "would I agree to letting you leave me hot and ready and not follow through on the best parts of fucking some girl's lipstick up?"
Frank stopped breathing for a second, just one. "You're not some girl."
"And you understood the question."
Frank's eyes were darker than their normal midnight liquid in his reflection. "You'd better give me permission to fuck up your stockings then, too."
Mikey leaned into him--the faux whalebone structure of the corset digging into his back. "You have my permission to fuck up anything you want."