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For the most part, shows take Gerard out of his head. He doesn't even see the other guys. He hears them, he feels them, they strum inside of him, more powerful than Ray's guitar, Bob's drums.

He doesn't really see them. Not usually.

Not until the night he's kissing Frank--and it's so easy, such a perfect cover for what is real--and he hears Mikey, hears the misplaced chord, which is odd. Mikey's so fucking brilliant, so fucking on with his bass.

He turns and Mikey's where he always is, standing like he always stands but for the first time Gerard is looking, paying attention, and he sees where Mikey is clinging to his bass like it's the thing holding him up, not the other way around.

He sings a couple of lines in that direction, ignoring the crowd--they'll still be there when he turns back. Mikey looks up, a questioning expression on his face and Gerard takes note of the lines at the corner of his eyes, like maybe he's been blinking back something--not tears, nothing that simple.

Gerard frowns and turns back to the crowd and sings like he wants his throat to come up, come out, to spill past himself and into the audience.

Frank sometimes talks about giving everything to the crowd. Gerard has already given them Frank and Mikey. Everything is nothing. And some nights he has nothing more to give.

After the show Mikey sits next to him on the bus, curls over him a bit. "You okay?"

"You're not," Gerard tells him.

Mikey doesn't laugh, because for all the times when Gerard is wrong, it's always the important ones when he's right.

"Okay enough," Mikey says.

Gerard knows all that means is that Mikey isn't at the place where he wants to leave them again. That isn't really good enough for him. Not anymore, not when he remembers Mikey being somewhere past his reach, past his help. The memories are cold and white, like snow, which Gerard has always found creepy and upsetting.

Frank collapses into the seat across from them, grinning. "Did you see that kid with the sign about Bob's piercings?"

Mikey shakes his head. "Nah, but did you see the one claiming to be Gerard's illegitimate love-child?"

"I did. I don't think I'm old enough," Gerard says, still watching Mikey, watching how perfectly, utterly serenely he reacts in response to Frank.

Mikey starts coming up with a theory about time travel and genetic mutation and Gerard listens, because he always listens, but mostly he sits there and wonders if the realization that Mikey is in love with Gerard's boyfriend should be more problematic than it is.

Probably.

But then they wouldn't be Mikey and Gee.

Normal is fucked up, anyhow.

*


It is a sneak attack, and Gerard would feel bad about that, except that this is for Mikey, and there is nothing that Gerard would not beg, borrow or steal for Mikey.

Apparently, even the thing he never thought he would give to anyone.

He chooses morning, early morning, when he's not exactly at his best, but Frank is smiling loopily, stretching, flopping back down onto Gerard, half-asleep and still pleased from Gerard's efforts the night before. He chooses that moment to thread his fingers through the hair at the nape of Frank's neck and say, "I had a thought."

"I never understand your thoughts this early in the morning," Frank murmurs sleepily.

"Hear me out anyway, yeah?"

Frank presses his lips to Gerard's collarbone in intimation of a positive response.

"I don't really-- I'm sort of crap at telling you how I feel, mostly."

Frank props his chin on Gerard's chest and narrows his eyes as much as he can, still obviously not fully awake. "I know how you feel."

Gerard knows. Frank wouldn't stay if he didn't. He's good at reading Gerard's sometimes opaque lyrics and always clumsy actions. "I don't want you to think this changes that. That fact. That I love you."

Gerard forces the words to come out in their most unadorned state.

"Gee," Frank says, half-concern, half-warning.

"I would like to share you."

Frank doesn't move, not even to breathe, for a couple of second. Then he asks, "Could you repeat that?"

Gerard doesn't think he can. Instead he says, "Mikey looks at you."

Frank lifts his head and shakes it, as though that might clear his obviously incipient insanity. "I'm sorry, I think I'm missing--"

"He looks at you. The way I do. Except he's Mikey, so it's different, but he just-- It's not like you don't love him. Maybe not like you love me and maybe not like I love him, but that doesn't negate the existence of your love."

The thing about Frank is that Gerard's pretty sure most of the people in the world would roll off of him, would yell, "He's your fucking brother!" or, "You demented pervert!" or "What the fuck?"

Frank stays where he is. He says, "This is something you can't take back, Gerard. Not for yourself or me or him."

"Would you want me to take it back?" is the only thing Gerard has left to ask.

Frank is slow to answer, and Gerard watches him think about it, watches him consider all the angles, his eyes careful inside his face, heavy with sleep, sharp with worry and anticipation and something that Gerard always likes to think is his love. If it's not, Gerard will die happily believing it was.

Finally Frank says, "No."

"Then I won't try."

Frank once again lowers his head to Gerard's chest and Gerard brings his hand to cup his scalp, hold him close.

*


Gerard sends a runner for vegetarian sushi because Mikey likes pickled ginger and wasabi, and Frank likes finger food in general. Gerard really, really wants sake, but he's not going to ask for it.

"Oo," Mikey says, when the food shows. "You got me extra spicies, right?"

"Spicies," Gerard repeats, laughing a little bit. "Yeah, I've got you covered."

Frank grabs a roll and pops it in Gerard's mouth, smiling at him mischievously. Gerard swats him away. Frank ducks the swat and then grabs another roll, prancing around as he eats it. He can't stay still when he's nervous.

Gerard grabs Frank by the hips and hauls him into a seat. Mikey laughs at their antics and steals all the wasabi. Which is okay, because Gerard hates it when Frank gets in on that and his kisses burn.

Gerard takes another roll and chews slowly. Mikey says, "So, there was something you wanted to talk to me about?"

Frank--who has randomly decided to try out the chopsticks--flings a rolls across the bus.

Mikey watches it fly. "Maybe your fingers would be better."

Gerard puts a couple of rolls on Frank's plate and takes the chopsticks from him before one of them ends up with an eye missing. He puts a hand to Frank's lower back and rubs a little bit.

Mikey frowns. "You okay?"

Gerard says, "I asked him to do something that he's afraid is going to upset you."

Mikey eats some ginger straight. "Explaining would help."

"I noticed--" Gerard stops, shakes his head a little bit, starts over again. "The other night you were looking. At Frank."

"Sometimes he comes across my line of vision, yes."

"No," Gerard says. "No, Mikey. You were looking at him."

Mikey stops chewing.

"Chew, then swallow," Frank says, sounding concerned.

Mikey listens to him, which pretty much only cements things for Gerard.

"Gee," Mikey says, "It isn't-- I wouldn't--"

"I know. Which is why I'm going to take advantage of the fact that you always let me do things my way, always stand back and follow me and hold me up and whatever, and now I want to do something and you're going to be unsure, but I'm asking and you have to say yes because you're Mikey."

Mikey blinks. "I know how to say no."

"Please don't now," Frank says, which is sort of impressively cruel of Frank, and even Gerard is a little caught by the calmness of the request.

Mikey's mouth drops open just the tiniest bit.

"I want you to sleep with him, Mikey," Gerard says. "I mean. I would be there. Because I can't-- I wish I could, just. Do that. But I-- He's Frank."

For the first time since the conversation, Mikey looks as if there's something he actually understands. "Yes. Frank."

"So we want that."

"We?" Mikey asks, sounding as if he's speaking from down the rabbit hole.

Frank nods. "We do. We. Do."

Mikey closes his eyes. "Fucking hell. How is it that you can save every girl from Detroit to Sacramento through your intentions and, coming from the very same place, utterly fucking destroy me?"

He opens his eyes on Gerard.

Gerard says, "This doesn't end like that."

"It does," Mikey tells him.

"No," Gerard says. "I was always the one with foresight."

And it's true, but Gerard knows it doesn't make it any easier for Mikey to look over at Frank, who is still pleading silently, for him to nod and pretend to eat the rest of his share of the sushi.

*


Gerard's resolution to give Mikey some time--allow him to realize that coming to them is the only reasonable course of action--lasts less than forty-eight hours. Gerard blames this on Frank, who is eminently blamable.

It is Frank who grins at him, somewhere in the middle of "Dead"--and seriously, what kind of theatricality is that?--who grins and contorts himself and maybe even undulates a bit, and Jesus, what is Gerard supposed to do with that?

They barely make it on the bus before Gerard has Frank's shirt off and so it's inevitable that Mikey's going to see them on the way to the bunks. Gerard puts a hand over Frank's mouth once they're safely ensconced. Frank bites it, but Gerard doesn't move it, not once, not until he has collapsed, still inside Frank, nearly atop him, and Frank's breathing is too shudder-filled, too aftermath-wracked for him to do something like talk.

Gerard's hand is bleeding a little bit where Frank's cuspids sank slightly deeper at the moment of orgasm. Gerard didn't even feel it at the time.

Frank says, "Maybe you should wash that." He doesn't sound sorry.

And not that Frank can't be an enticing, aggressive little fuck when he wants to be, but, "What the hell, Frankie?"

"You think in terms of possible payoffs. Mikey thinks in terms of possible consequences. If you want him to accept, you need to make him forget those possibilities. Or at least, decide the risk of them is worth taking."

Gerard knows this about Mikey, but it's never really occurred to him to manipulate that particular aspect of his brother--particularly when it has meant that Mikey overwhelmingly makes better decisions than he does.

"Manipulative little shit, aren't we?"

Frank rolls the little bit away that the bunk will allow, stretches in that way he knows Gerard likes to watch. "Got me you, didn't it?"

Gerard cocks an eyebrow. "Did it?"

"Mm. I should have held out on my decision to join the band--would have saved me having to flirt with Ray so damned much to get your attention. You like the things you can't have best."

"I've had you a pretty long while and you're still sort of high up on that list."

"That's because I'm a tease."

Frank is a tease, but that's not why Gerard can't so much as really look at another guy anymore, not with much valid interest. "Yeah," he says, and kisses Frank before rolling over him to go wash his hand.

Frank makes discontented noises for a few seconds before--predictably--curling up to go to sleep.

*


Mikey intercepts Gerard on his way to the antibacterial soap that the kitchen area supports. He says, "Assholish acts of exhibitionism are not the way to my dick."

Gerard squeezes--pushes--past Mikey to get to the soap. "Good thing it's not simply your dick that's important in this equation."

The soap stings.

Mikey looks down, obviously seeing the marks for the first time. He looks away, his single intake of breath loud.

"Frank says we have to make you forget the consequences."

"So we can all be utter morons? I sort of like this band as a, y'know, band, rather than a VH1 special. But that could just be me."

Gerard's pretty sure he doesn't mean to say, "You've always trusted me before," but those are the words he hears given to Mikey in response. Since they've been said, he adds, "Even the times when you probably shouldn't have."

Mikey's eyes are wide, sharp in a way they could never manage behind the glasses. Sometimes Gerard misses the mediating factor of those glasses. He wonders if Mikey does too, or if he's relieved to finally be able to express himself without interference.

Finally, Mikey says, "For the most part, you've been worthy of my trust. If you hadn't been-- I learn from my mistakes."

"What makes me less worthy this time?"

Mikey says, "It's not just you."

"You trust him, too. Don't-- That's cruel, that lie. You're not cruel."

"I wouldn't mind being so."

Gerard sympathizes with the sentiment. "What makes this time different?"

"Gerard, you know--"

"No, you have to tell me."

"It just," Mikey throws his hands in the air, all long fingers and fraught frustration, "it just is, and you know it."

"What I know is that that's a stupid answer." Gerard knows Mikey is aware of that, too, but pulls back enough not to point that out.

"Not as stupid as this idea," Mikey comes back with, almost right away. Too quickly.

"Way more stupid," Gerard says.

"Is not."

"Is too."

"I am so not having an is-so-is-not argument with you. Not over this or anything else."

"Are too."

Mikey rolls his eyes and walks away.

*


It's three nights later when Gerard finds himself struggling to sing through a breathless mixture of possessiveness and hope, catching Frank kiss Mikey out of the corner of his eye.

It is not a sweet kiss, which surprises Gerard--Frank's always so fucking sweet with Mikey. It is earnest and fervent and devilish all at once, the way only Frank--Frank performing--can be.

Gerard wants to kiss Frank, doesn't want him to forget Gerard, which is ridiculous, because the minute Frank's lips are off Mikey's he's at Gerard's back, and the chords his fingers are pulling from his guitar are humming through Gerard, better than the first rush of caffeine from a morning latte. Gerard doesn't kiss Frank, because Mikey is watching the two of them, watching the two of them, and Gerard recognizes progress when he sees it.

He's working on coming down from the show high when Mikey slinks into the common area, hair and skin and lips still damp from the shower, and says, "Have it your way."

Frank rolls off the couch to sidle on up to Mikey, to ask, "Our way? Does that mean I can do this?" and then lick a straight path along the clear-cut edge of Mikey's collar-bone.

Mikey makes a choked sound, and for all the times when Gerard has been glad that Bob sleeps like the dead after a show, and Ray is closer to his headphones than most men are to their cocks, never, ever has he felt quite this much gratitude. He does not want to tell Mikey to be quiet.

Evidently Frank feels differently, "Hush, Mikey," the whisper is sibilant, seductive.

Mikey says, "Not here," and sounds pretty firm about that.

Frank whimpers but pulls enough away that Gerard knows he's going to listen. Mikey's right. This isn't really something they want to risk having observers for, even if it is only Bob and Ray.

Gerard flips to his Google calendar on his sidekick. "Hotel stay in three nights. D.C."

"You're not allowed to change your mind," Frank tells him, looking both worried and determined.

"I doubt you'll be so kind as to let me," Mikey says, his gaze directly on Frank. Gerard is sort of glad not to be the one on whom the blame falls, just this once. Even if, in the larger scheme of things, it's totally his fault.

Frank puts a hand to Mikey's face. It's a tender gesture, which normally would be so very par for the course between the two of them, but after Frank's latest campaign trail, it seems incongruent. Mikey turns into the hand, kisses the palm. Gerard understands that Frank has been forgiven his part in all of this.

For a second his envy of Frank is a poisonous, creeping thing in his veins. Then Mikey looks past Frank to him, and shakes his head and says, "One of these days I'm going to stop spoiling you."

Gerard nods solemnly and stands up to go wrap himself over Mikey's back, hold tight to the man he knows. "Same goes for me."

*


Frank says, "He's not going to come to us," and Gerard says, "No, probably not."

Frank nips at Gerard's chin. "Second thoughts?"

And third and fourth. "No."

Frank laughs. "Liar." He threads his fingers in Gerard's. "Come on."

Gerard allows himself to be dragged down the hall. Frank says, "Knock."

Gerard knocks. They're so close. Frank won't let him fuck this up.

Mikey answers the door and stands in it, not letting them past. "Hi."

Frank says, "We totally scheduled this time, no excuses."

Mikey rolls his eyes, but steps back.

Frank waits less than a second after the door is closed to hook his fingers in the belt loops of Mikey's jeans. Mikey comes without much hesitance, but his back arches with the momentum of Frank's tug. Frank fits his hand underneath the overly-washed cotton of Mikey's Anthrax shirt and runs his hand along the line of that curve.

"Hey," Frank says, and kisses Mikey.

It's not new. Gerard watched it three nights ago.

Somehow, in this room, with their plans floating between them, it is the first time.

Mikey opens to him, his kisses finding a way to follow Frank's lead, soft and wet and a little bit like pleading without words.

Gerard closes his eyes for a moment, just a moment, opening them when he feels lips on his. Frank's eyes are right in front of him, happy and calm. "You're not allowed to leave."

"Gerard," Mikey whispers.

Gerard tilts his head. "Mikey."

"I want--" Mikey runs his tongue over his lips, red from the early spring weather, from Frank's being pressed over them. His eyes stray to Frank's jeans.

Gerard unbuttons Frank's jeans, unzips them. He pushes them down just enough and settles his hands on Frank's hips from behind. "C'mere."

Mikey takes the few steps slowly, folding fluidly to his knees.

Mikey has always been the graceful one.

Mikey's tongue comes out to test if this is actually allowed, to swirl lightly at the tip of Frank's cock. Frank says, "Um," in a pained whimper.

Gerard tells Mikey, "He likes a bit of squeeze."

"A bit?" Mikey asks.

Gerard smiles, and tightens his hold on Frank's hips. He's pretty sure it's going to be necessary.

*


Mikey takes his time. Gerard isn't sure whether that's technique on his part, or the desire to savor something he's not sure he'll ever be allowed again.

Frank is shaking under the hold of Gerard's fingers. Gerard kisses the back of Frank's neck. "Shh, settle."

Frank's breath catches. Gerard looks down and Mikey is looking up, his gaze locked with Frank's. Mikey's expression is intent, proud.

Gerard watches as he presses on, taking the last inch of Frank. Gerard grips Frank a bit tighter, unworried about the bruises that will form, worried about the way Frank feels like he's about to fly apart.

Mikey swallows and Frank howls. The skin around Mikey's eyes crinkles in what Gerard knows is a self-satisfied grin. He wonders if it's creepy to ask his younger brother for blowjob tips and then figures that given the circumstances, he probably shouldn't be worrying about matters of propriety.

When Frank's breathing becomes shallow and frantic, Gerard presses his body into Frank's, pulls him in a little as an anchor and waits as the orgasm comes, as Frank's hands scrabble to cover his and hold on, hold on.

When it's over, Mikey slides back from Frank, rests on his ankles.

Gerard says, "That's gonna slow things down a bit."

Mikey still looks pleased with himself. Gerard realizes that may have been the point in the first place.

Frank says, "I think Mikey should be naked."

"Why?" Mikey asks lazily. "Neither of you are."

Gerard says, "Help me out with him."

Mikey picks up one of Frank's feet while Gerard continues to keep him upright. Mikey strips him of a shoe, then a sock, then changes feet and repeats. He brings his hands up and drags Frank's jeans and boxers the rest of the way down and off, one foot at a time. Gerard lets go long enough to pull Frank's shirt over his head.

Frank asks, "Now do we get to see you naked?"

Mikey rolls his eyes and starts by peeling off his shirt. Frank's breathing is still a little short, a little anticipatory. Mikey strips the rest of the way and looks at Gerard. "Well?"

Gerard hands the Frank Doll over to Mikey, stripping quickly, throwing his clothes aside.

Mikey asks, "You want him back?"

That's not a question Gerard is prepared to answer. "Bring him to the bed."

Mikey says, "C'mon, you gotta help."

Frank whines a bit, but walks of his own accord. Mikey drops him onto the bed and Gerard pulls him up to where his head is on the pillows, lying on his side. Gerard slides down behind him. He's already hard enough that it's something of a challenge, concentrating on the parts of this, the way things have to come together for pleasure's sake.

He tells Mikey, "If you want him to fuck you, it's your job to get him where he can," since Mikey is the one who took things as far as they went.

Mikey pales a little. "Um."

Frank pulls him down to where they are lying facing each other. He kisses him once, slow and intent. "I want to fuck you. If that makes a difference."

"Frank," Mikey says. "Frank. I need some way to leave here."

"Stop thinking ahead," Frank says.

"No, I can't--"

Frank kisses him again. "Stop, you."

Gerard says, "We won't let you get hurt," and watches as Mikey falls over whatever precipice he was standing on, as Mikey digs his cock against Frank's, presses sob-like breaths into his mouth.

Gerard wraps his hand around Mikey's bicep and holds on as tightly as he held to Frank.

*


It takes a while for the urgency within Mikey to calm itself, for him to slow the strokes of his cock against Frank's. Frank lets go a breath in relief and Gerard thinks about how that might have been too much, how he might have still been a little over-sensitized from his orgasm. How he laid there and took it.

Gerard sucks gently at his shoulder, whispers, "Now, gorgeous?"

"Gerard," Frank murmurs. "Gerard."

"Okay," he says. He grabs the lube from where he dropped it a moment ago, when they moved to the bed, and pour some over his fingers. At this point, he doesn't really think Frank needs it, but like Mikey, he wants to take his time. Frank is so fucking happy at this moment.

Frank complains, "More," when Gerard pushes the first finger in past the knuckle, playing a bit. Gerard ignores him, gives him the second finger when he feels like it.

Frank reacts to the addition of a third by finally pushing back into Mikey, getting back in the game. Mikey says, "Hey there."

Gerard rolls a condom on and pushes in, smooth and long and just hard enough. Frank says, "Yeah, yeahyeah."

Gerard pulls back, just a tiny bit and rolls his hips, pushing right along Frank's prostate in short, deep pressing motions.

Mikey says, "Oh, good," and reaches over Gerard to where the condoms are. Gerard peers over Frank's shoulder, watching as Mikey pushes the condom up the length of Frank's cock.

Mikey's about to turn over when Frank says, "No," and grabs onto Mikey's leg, hooking it over his thigh. The arch of Mikey's foot rests on Gerard's knee. Frank brings Mikey closer with a hand to his back, says, "You're going to have to help."

Mikey works with Frank, settles himself as far onto Frank's cock as he can go in that position. Breathes, "Little awkward."

Frank says, "Little intimate. Didn't want you going anywhere."

Gerard rocks into Frank, watching as the motion ends with Mikey undulating, making small sounds in the back of his throat. Frank just presses him closer, close enough that his cock is caught between the two of them. Mikey babbles, "Oh fuck Frank, fuck, Jesus, fuck--" until Frank laughs a bit, a delighted laugh, and kisses him quiet.

Gerard whispers, "Mm, seconded," and drives in as hard as he can manage.

He can hear Frank's noises even through the kiss.

Gerard lets sensation take over then, the feel of Frank's back at his chest, the scrape of Mikey's foot over his leg, the way their breathing patterns harmonize and clash. He's nothing but sound and touch and the salt-slick smell of Frank's hair when Mikey, Mikey, speeds things up, writhing against, on, Frank.

Frank says, "Yeah, yeah, that's it," and keeps his hand strong at Mikey's back, going with Mikey, following him. Gerard thinks maybe he should catch up, but it's too nice, letting Mikey do the work, letting Frank feed off of that into him, further, deeper onto him.

Without realizing he's going to, Gerard comes first, slipping over the edge so quickly he's not even sure what has happened until the first crushing moment of the fall has passed. Even after that, he lets it take him, just loosens in to the drop.

By the time Gerard can remember his name, Mikey is also finished, draped over Frank without form or figure. Frank is laughing, moving slowly into Mikey, onto Gerard and it's too much, way too much, but Gerard stays where is, still and compliant and taking it until Frank's neck arches back and he gasps and comes.

When Frank says, "Help me," Gerard works with him to get Mikey off, to turn him around so that Frank can spoon up along his back. Gerard gets up and brings back a couple of washcloths, handing one to Mikey, taking care of Frank on his own.

Mikey says, "I should maybe--"

Frank cuts him off with, "Sleep, you."

"Definitely sleep," Gerard agrees, knowing for sure that isn't what Mikey was going to say. Gerard climbs back in and curls over Frank, his fingers brushing at the length of Mikey's torso.

Gerard kisses the skin right below the lobe of Frank's ear and tells him, "Good night."

*


When Gerard wakes up Mikey is gone, which means that he has to go find him. This is more difficult than it technically should be, as they're already in Mikey's room, so it's not like he could have slipped off to his own space.

Luckily, Gerard knows Mikey pretty well. He's in the second place he tries, walking in circles around the bus. Gerard joins him. "You're lucky they secured the parking lot."

"I checked," Mikey says.

Gerard nods. Mikey is often more responsible than he gives him credit for.

"Wanna see if we can sneak into a Starbucks?"

"I was sorta out here thinking. You know, by myself."

"I know." Gerard nods. "I think that's a bad idea."

"That's not your decision to make."

"I know," Gerard says again. "Please. Go get a latte with me."

Mikey kicks at a rock. "If I asked, would you even be able to leave well enough alone?"

Gerard has the grace to look abashed but the honesty to admit, "No, not really."

"Worm's gonna be pissed."

Gerard smiles. After a second, Mikey does too.

*


They wear hoodies. They've found that anything more extensive makes them conspicuous and open to attack. That isn't a misnomer, either. Gerard has had to hydrogen peroxide fingernail scratches more often than he prefers to remember.

Mikey does the ordering, because his voice is less recognizable.

They make it out of the Starbucks and to the parking lot and that's when Mikey says, "Tagger, four o'clock."

"Run, or act chill?" Gerard asks.

Mikey takes a sip of his latte. "There's only one."

They act chill. The girl catches up with them and they sign her shirt and she smiles one of those big, generally-thrilled smiles that always cracks Gerard a little inside. He wants to say, "Wait, I'm just trying to fix things with my brother this morning," but then she's gone and Mikey's still next to him and they make it back to the hotel without incident so maybe it's for the best that Gerard has managed to keep his mouth shut.

Mikey says, "Maybe we should have gotten Frank one."

Gerard shrugs. "He's probably still asleep. C'mon."

He takes Mikey back to his room and they sit on the couch and don't say anything for a bit until Gerard finally finds the words to ask, "Why'd you leave?"

"Because it was morning."

"We didn't tell you--"

"What would have been accomplished by me staying?"

Gerard frowns. "Something had to be accomplished?"

Mikey rubs a hand over his face. "Gerard. Fuck. You got what you wanted, okay? You gave me Frank, and you're awesome, the best brother ever, is that what you need to hear?"

Gerard presses himself further into the arm of the couch.

"But it's morning now, and I need to move on from your version of a pity fuck so if you could just leave me the hell alone to do--"

"It wasn't a pity fuck. Don't-- You saw him, you heard him. Don't act like he would do that. And as far as me, fuck you, okay, Mikey? Because I've watched you spiral against and into severe bipolar depression and never once paired the word 'pity' with you, so, just, fuck you."

"Oh, very clever." There's no edge to the rejoinder, though, and Mikey is looking at him questioningly over the rim of his cup.

Gerard sighs. "I can't give him to you. Not wholly, okay? I know my limits. And even if I could, he's his own person, he's not just something to be traded between us as currency or...I don't know, whatever. He's Frank."

Mikey nods.

"But if you could have what you wanted, when you most wanted it? If you knew you could ask and not necessarily have the answer be no?"

Mikey shakes his head. "I swear, Gee, I will probably never look at another person the way I've looked at you my whole life, but there are times where I honest to fuck wonder what the hell the world looks like from inside your head."

Gerard looks at his cup and doesn't say anything.

"What if that's all I ever want? Isn't he that for you? Please tell me he is, please, because if he's not--"

Gerard whips his gaze up and it's enough to stop Mikey.

"Yeah, okay. So, what if?"

After a long moment, Gerard asks, "Is he really? I mean, if he is, okay, but you've kept silent about it for an awfully long time, let me have my way for maybe forever."

"You're my brother," Mikey says.

Gerard knows exactly what that means, but he just waits.

Finally Mikey admits, "He is maybe not to me what he is to you. If only because he's in love with you."

Gerard feels a little guilty about that last, but Frank loves him and that's a hard thing to feel anything but honored, brilliant, excellent about. "We can be a stopping place, Mikey. A place to...rest."

Mikey laughs. "Rest?"

Gerard smiles a little. "You knew what I meant."

Mikey falls back against the couch and closes his eyes. "I did." He breathes in through his nose. "I do."

*


Later, they're alone and Frank's resting his head on Gerard's stomach, his fingers just creeping beneath the hem of Gerard's shirt, barely brushing at the skin. Gerard cards his fingers through Frank's hair and tells him about the coffee and Mikey's anger and, "Maybe I fucked this one up."

"You always doubt yourself most right when everything's starting to work," Frank tells him.

And okay, that's pretty true, which is unsurprising, because Frank's smarter than anyone he knows, and definitely smarter about Gerard than most people. Still, "He was pretty sad. It was supposed to be--"

"It is, Mikey just has a tendency to look in the wrong direction some of the time."

Gerard tightens his fingers, just a little. "What do you mean?"

"You wouldn't have done this if you didn't really think he would move past it. You wouldn't have. You wouldn't stagnate him like that. So you must have thought there was somewhere for him to move to."

Gerard stalls. "There are lots of places for him to move to. Who wouldn't want to try for him?"

Frank flips himself around, resting his chin in Gerard's navel so that he can look up at him.

Gerard sighs. "Well, okay, but that's a very specific case of you being in love with me, and if you weren't, you can't really say--"

"You don't usually keep stuff from me."

"I'm not--"

"Not even Mikey stuff, normally."

Gerard looks to the side. "Maybe I think I've already made enough of a mess."

"You've cleaned your apartment before, right?"

"It's not an activity I engage in regularly."

"No, but you've done it."

Gerard nods.

"Doesn't it get messier before it gets cleaner? Mine does."

Gerard says--and he feels this is pretty significant--"That's my apartment. This is my brother."

"The metaphor works Gerard, you know it does."

Petulantly, Gerard tells him, "I'm the band's metaphor guy."

Frank laughs and pulls himself up Gerard for a kiss. Gerard says, "I'm not mollified," but really, he is.

Amazingly--annoyingly--Frank has not been distracted. "Tell me, Gerard."

Gerard tilts his head back a little. "There's just... Someone. There's someone who looks at Mikey. And I think that if Mikey just stopped--" Gerard sighs, "looking in the wrong direction, that it could be good. Right."

Frank chews on his lower lip for a bit before asking, a mischievous bent to his voice, "Are you matchmaking, Gerard Way?"

"I'll have you know," Gerard says loftily, "I am saving him."

Frank laughs. "Of course you are."

*


Mikey comes to them the second time. He comes to them and he looks at Gerard and says, "I'm tired."

Gerard sits Mikey down on the couch. Mikey slumps.

Gerard wonders if Mikey's exhaustion isn't as metaphorical as he was thinking.

Frank pulls Mikey's pants from him, kisses the insides of his knees, the spread of his thighs. He laps gently at Mikey's balls, sucks the head of his cock into his mouth. Mikey is restless under the treatment, unable to still and lethargic all at once.

Gerard crouches behind Frank and works his boxers off with a little help. He says, "Kneel up."

Frank does.

"Spread your legs."

Gerard settles himself on his back in the V of Frank's thighs and then brings him back down again with a touch to his hips. Frank lowers himself into Gerard's mouth and Gerard closes his eyes, lost in this, lost in the familiarity of Frank, in the sounds of relief, of pleasure, of safety that Mikey is making above him. Gerard closes a hand around his cock and pulls, long and slow. He's in no hurry, not when nobody else seems to be.

Frank must finish at some point because he shifts, working himself slightly further in. Gerard just opens up, maybe says, "Mmm," maybe makes Frank gasp, makes Frank say, "Gee," in that plaintive, sweet way he has.

Sometimes Gerard doesn't know how to be as in love as he is. Sometimes he has to keep his eyes closed, and hope that the world is still there the way he left it when he opens them up.

Frank comes, and it's messy from this angle and Gerard sort of likes that, sort of likes having Frank all over him, being marked, if only where the two of them--where Mikey--can see. Frank pulls away, collapses next to Gerard, brings his hand to wrap around Gerard's, help him get where he's going.

When Gerard finishes, Frank scoots back until he's couched in Mikey's legs. He folds his legs into a pretzel and tugs a little at Gerard until he cooperates with putting his head in Frank's lap.

Gerard looks up, can see Mikey running his fingers through Frank's hair. Frank tips his head back. "Still tired?"

"It's not so bad," Mikey says.

Gerard smiles and closes his eyes again.

*


After the third time, when Mikey is starting to accept, really accept, starting to stand a little taller on stage, starting to allow easy affection between himself and Frank the way he wouldn't at first, that's when Gerard starts counting the hours.

It takes Bob thirty-four of them. And twelve minutes, but Gerard only knows that because he happens to be glancing at a clock when Bob sits down next to him.

"Hey," he says, and waits.

"Look. I'm not-- Judging other people isn't so much my thing, okay? I mean, I liked peanut butter and eggs on toast before I stopped eating eggs, so who am I to talk, right?"

Gerard nods. That's a pretty valid life philosophy.

"But, um, I just have to ask. This thing you've got going with Mikey--"

"He wanted Frank."

"Well, right, we all knew that, but Frank is kinda your boyfriend--"

"But Mikey wanted him."

Bob looks at Gerard for a second. Slowly he says, "You're really. . .sort of special, you realize?"

Bob sounds like he means it, so Gerard shrugs. "Mikey."

Bob says. "Yeah. Mikey."

Gerard fixes Bob with a look. "This wouldn't have been necessary if you could have just grown a pair before it got to the point where I noticed the Frank thing, which clearly took me a lot longer than it took me to realize the you thing, but Mikey knows how to hide from me, so I guess that's--"

"What are you talking about?"

Gerard rolls his eyes. "I am in this band, Robert."

"Yeah," Bob says, in a tone that makes Gerard ask, "What does that mean?"

"You're kind of our leader, and we let you lead and then we do, um, things that need to get done while you're off, y'know, leading."

Gerard works to untangle what he has been told. "You guys think I don't pay attention?"

"Not-- We think that sometimes details are too small for you. You think in big pictures. Your art, your words, it's all. . .overarching."

All right, Gerard can see that, but, "You guys are my big picture."

Bob sighs. "How long have you known?"

"Since you agreed to tour with us for free. Not that that wasn't cool, but, um, I tend to look gift horses in the mouth. Largely because if you don't, your city's gonna be filled with Greeks before you know it."

"And you didn't say anything until now?"

"I kept expecting you to take care of it. I'm his big brother, not yours."

"He was in love with Frank."

"Ever notice how unrequited love has a tendency to fade away when somebody's presented with a better option?"

"A better option than Frank?"

"I might be biased in that particular arena."

"I'm serious, Gee."

"So am I."

"Just because I want--"

"Not just because, Bob. He listens to you, and he doesn't do that for just anyone. He lets you near when he can't have me or Frank or Ray around. Not just because. Because if you could just try, there would be something."

"If you're wrong about this--"

"I'm willing to take the chance that I'm wrong with a lot of things, but not with my brother, okay? I. . . Jesus Christ, I gave him Frank. Messing up with him is less of an option at this point than it ever was."

Bob starts again. "If you're wrong about this, I'm probably going to have to kill you, which will be a really sucky end to My Chem."

"Although, sort of poetic."

Bob shakes his head.

*


Mikey corners Gerard in the dressing room before a show. "Did you set Bob on me?"

Technically? Yes, that might have been what Gerard did. He prefers to think of it as a little strategic intervention. "No."

"Because he's made me coffee every day this week. The way I like it. And that's not something you just start doing for a guy you've been touring with for a few years."

"Maybe he's discovered a new love of the mechanics of our coffee machine, and you are simply a convenient way to offload the resultant goods."

"Gee."

"Mikey."

"If you want me to stop, just fucking say it, okay? Say it to my face. Don't involve innocent bystanders."

"I didn't do this," Gerard says, and okay, so he did do this, but he would have had to have done it sooner or later, even if Mikey hadn't started sleeping with Gerard's boyfriend. Bob was pining. Also, therefore, by definition, not an innocent bystander, but he's not going to get into that.

The look on Mikey's face is pure disbelief.

Gerard asks, "Why does it bother you? He makes the coffee the way you like it. And you like coffee."

"I also like this band in one piece. And I've really done enough to threaten that already."

No more than Gerard. "Why are Bob and his coffee bad for the band?"

"That depends on what you said to him. If you said, 'keep Mikey company, distract him a little bit,' we're probably okay, and I can do what I need to do to get past this and be a little or maybe a whole bunch pissed at you that you couldn't just say 'hey, this isn't working out anymore' and be a brother to me and let me, y'know, mope a little.

"But if you said, 'could you sleep with Mikey a couple of times, let him know he has options,' then we're probably up shit creek and rowing with our fucking hands, because I'm not even sure how the hell you saw that one playing out. What happens when he figures he's done and I'm not? What then, Gerard? Are we back here, only now I'm moping over Bob and Frank? I mean, I have my shit relatively together, but can we both be honest and admit that there might be things that could break me all over again?

"Please let's be honest about that, even if we're going to lie to each other's faces about everything else."

"Mikey," Gerard says softly, "I didn't intervene. Not the way you're thinking."

Mikey's shoulders fall a little bit. "How, then, Gee?"

"Maybe the way I intervened with you. You and Frank."

Mikey gives him a blank look. "You're not making any sense."

Gerard is, he is. In his own head he makes perfect sense. But Mikey can usually understand him even when nobody else can, so that probably means he's not by the time the words make it past his lips.

Finally he asks, "Why do you always think nobody will want to keep you?"

Mikey says, "Don't change the subject."

"I'm not, Mikey." Gerard wonders if he sounds as desperate as he feels. "Why?"

Mikey shrugs. "Learning to recognize patterns is a life skill."

"So is learning ways to overcome harmful patterns."

"I've heard," Mikey says dryly.

Gerard looks at him and thinks, please, please hear what I'm trying to say, without even knowing entirely what that is, just that he's trying. He's trying.

So of course Mikey asks, "What do you want, Gerard? What are you trying to do?"

Gerard focuses on the first question. "I want you to drink Bob's coffee."

"If this breaks up the band, I swear to fuck I'm contracting for a Behind the Music entirely from my point of view."

"Totally fair," Gerard agrees.

*


Gerard hates waiting. If Gerard had created the world, a person would do a thing and it would be accomplished, and done.

Frank would remind Gerard that if he had created the world he would have had more to consider than what personally pisses him off about it, especially seeing as how he wouldn't know, because it wouldn't have been created yet, but that's not important. What's important is that Gerard hates waiting.

And he has to wait now. Has to wait and be careful that Mikey doesn't see him watching to make sure Mikey keeps accepting the coffee, watching to see whether Bob makes Mikey laugh or not, whether he knows the right times to rub a hand over the bridge of Mikey's shoulder blades.

And of course he does know all that, because he's Bob, but that doesn't mean that Gerard can stop checking.

Sometimes being an older brother is very tiring.

Then there's Bob to consider, because that's Gerard's drummer, there. Gerard maybe smiles at Bob a bit more than he did before until Bob says, "Stop being nervous. You're making me nervous."

Gerard can't help being nervous but when he starts to feel that way he seeks out Frank who dips his fingers just beneath the waist of Gerard's jeans, caresses his thumbs over the hipbones, says, "Hey there. Hey."

Gerard curls up a little, fits his head in the crook of Frank's neck and Frank brings a hand up to cover the back of Gerard's neck.

Gerard says, "It would be much more considerate of them if they could just fall in love and be done with it."

Frank's, "I know," is sympathetic, if a bit amused.

"Mikey should trust us more."

"Mike should trust himself more, but 'should' is a pretty tricky concept, isn't it?"

Still, it's self-evident to Gerard that, "Bob wouldn't hurt him. I wouldn't let Bob hurt him, even if he wanted to. Which he doesn't."

Frank twists his hand a little to thread his fingers through the hair at the nape of Gerard's neck. "Mikey's spent a long time pining after someone who was going to hurt him simply by dint of being unavailable. He likes to get the hurt out of the way upfront. Bob won't let him, so he's stalling, thinking he can force it. You've got to give Bob some time to make Mikey see that it doesn't always work like that."

"You didn't mean to hurt him."

"Doesn't make it any better for me that I did. Is it all right with you? When you hurt him incidentally?"

That tends to make it worse, but contextually, Gerard's not going to admit it. Besides, Frank already knows. He's too smart for his own good.

What he does say is, "Is that what I did here, do you think? Only did I hurt you, too? And Bob?"

"Probably, but you'll still have Ray, so that's all right."

"Not funny," Gerard tells him.

"It really was," Frank argues.

And okay, it kind of was. Gerard shoves a hand against Frank's stomach. Frank laughs.

"This blows," Gerard opines. Heartily.

"We could do something else that blows. Would that make it better?"

"Probably not," Gerard whines, but he's not turning down the opportunity, either.

*


Gerard emerges out of the bunks to witness his boyfriend folding Gerard's brother to his chest and saying, "Okay, okay. It's--"

"It's not," Mikey says, from Frank's chest, which makes it a little hard to decipher, but Gerard has a lot of practice.

Frank looks up at that point, sees Gerard, mouths, "Bob. Now."

Gerard turns back into the bunks, pulls aside the curtain on Bob's and only feels slightly bad shaking him awake.

Bob smacks Gerard's hand away. "What the fuck?"

"Mikey needs you," Gerard tells him.

Bob's out of the bunk so fast he runs into Gerard. This happens, on occasion, and normally Bob would set Gerard back wholly on his feet and apologize. He doesn't. He heads for Mikey. Gerard hides his smile.

Bob put his hands around Mikey's arms and Frank gives him over easily. Mikey looks at Bob, having been turned into him, then back at Frank. He calls Frank, with no ambivalence whatsoever, "Asshole."

Frank's smile isn't even vaguely apologetic.

Bob uses a hand to get Mikey to look at him. "Gee said you needed me."

Mikey's responding laugh to that is, okay, maybe a little bit hysterical. Frank moves off to give them some room, comes to stand by Gerard. Gerard whispers, "What happened?"

"Mikey suggested coming to our room tomorrow night."

Gerard blinks. That's the sort of self-destructive behavior he would expect from himself. "You said no?"

"I asked how Bob would feel about that."

"And he just--"

"Said it wasn't any of Bob's business. But he sounded like he wished it was."

"And?"

"That was pretty much where you walked in."

Gerard nods. Bob is holding Mikey's shoulders even as the laughter still racks him. He lowers one hand to Mikey's chest, the hand considerable even against the breadth of Mikey's chest, the width and expanse of which Gerard has always envied. Bob says, "Breathe, Mikey."

It takes Mikey several tries, but Bob just keeps his hand where it is, talks to Mikey in a low, smooth, encouraging tone.

When Mikey's breathing normally enough to pass for all right again, Bob shifts him, pulling Mikey against him so that his back rests on Bob's chest. He asks--softly enough that Gerard knows he's not meant to hear, knows he should walk away, but he can't, just can't, "Why didn't you just ask for me?"

"You always say yes to Gerard."

Gerard sees Bob stiffen. He asks, "What?"

"Gerard. He asked you to spend time with me, so you--"

"You thought this was about Gerard asking me to take care of you?"

"The coffee. You started right after--"

"I needed permission."

"What?"

"In case, you know. In case your thing with them was a thing and not just a, um, not-thing."

"I don't understand."

"I asked Gerard. Or, kind of. I asked to make sure you weren't somebody else's and then Gerard told me I needed to stop twiddling my thumbs and fucking play something already, you know?"

"Did you seriously just use a drummer metaphor?"

"Shut up. This band has too many fucking guitarists."

Mikey laughs a little at that, a shaky, fledgling laugh, but a non-hysterical one, which is something. "How long?"

"How long?"

"Had you been twiddling your thumbs?"

"Since before Europe, the first time. I didn't want you going overseas without me. So I followed you."

"I thought--"

"I just liked the music?"

"It's good music."

"It's life saving music," Bob agrees. "But it's only one part of you."

Mikey says, "A big part. Like the Gerard part. Big."

"Still just a part. And I like all of them. I have for so fucking long."

"I thought--"

"I know, but that's because you never see the person we see when you look."

"But you want me. For real. Not just because Gerard asked."

Next to him, Gerard can feel Frank's breathing quicken. He slips his hand into Frank's. One problem at a time. Frank squeezes back.

"I actually have a separate consciousness from this band, you know?" Bob asks.

"Well, aren't you special?" But Mikey twists in his grasp, bends himself so that he can hold his lips to Bob's for a long moment. He tries to pull back then, but Bob's onto him, has one hand at Mikey's back, holding him where his is. The other hand is on Mikey's hip, working to get him into a position that makes debauching him easier.

Frank tugs on Gerard's hand, pulling him further back into the bunks. "Come on, you perv."

Gerard says, "I just like seeing the part where he's happy."

"You can ask him about it later."

Gerard gives in and follows Frank. Frank is sweet, and rewards him for his good behavior.

*


"I should say thanks," Mikey says, with a tone of voice that suggests he has come to this decision and it is therefore, inarguably, Right.

"Please don't." Frank manages not to wince, but his head is in Gerard's lap, his shoulders under Gerard's hand, and Gerard can feel it build up inside him.

Mikey frowns at that. "You were my place. My place to go, to be. And then you showed me where to go to really be."

Mikey looks so damn settled, so eminently complete while saying this last that for a moment Gerard is simply caught up in this person he's known most of his life and been waiting to see for all that time.

"Evidently, Gerard did all that." Frank closes his eyes.

Gerard looks down at him, frowning. "Hey."

Mikey sits on the edge of the couch and pulls Frank up until he's sitting. "Look at me."

Frank does, calmly, belying the way he has kept his eyes closed until ordered otherwise.

Mikey says, "Gerard did ask you."

"I didn't have to say yes, you completely self-esteemless dickface."

Gerard sort of wants to laugh at the way Frank's insults always seem sort of fond, if exasperated.

Mikey smiles, but then, Mikey's allowed to smile. He's the one being insulted. Then he asks, "Are you really mad?"

"Little bit, yeah. You think I slept with you because I'm a total slave to Gerard's driving personality. Wouldn't you be mad?"

"I am a slave to Gerard's driving personality."

"Mikey," and now Frank just sounds exasperated.

Mikey sighs and lets Frank go. Frank stays sitting up, facing him. Mikey says, "It's not that I don't believe you love me."

"It sort of is."

"No, it's not. There's a difference between love and in love and if we've all learned nothing from this, it was probably that."

"But sex isn't always about in love or nothing. There's that space. That love space."

Mikey pauses. "Evidently."

"So maybe if you could not pretend like Gerard's the only one I would do just about anything for in this band. Like if you had fucking asked me yourself I wouldn't have gone to him and we could have done it that way."

"I don't think like Gerard. My brain doesn't provide those possibilities."

"Whose does? I'm saying hypothetically."

"Hypothetically," Mikey says slowly, "I believe that you would have-- I believe that it could have been about me, too. Not just Gerard."

Frank spares Mikey a small smile, a well-good-effort smile. "I accept that for now."

"You know why you're good together?" Mikey asks, almost casually.

"Why?" Gerard actually wants to know. He has his own theories, but it might be more interesting from the outside.

"Because you're both pushy little assholes."

Gerard's pretty sure his smile is identical to Frank's.

*


Ray says, somewhat philosophically, "You are all assholes."

Gerard, who probably did have a moment of consideration for their third bandmate before throwing Mikey into the arms of the fifth one, nods solemnly and guiltily. Frank--who clearly has no such compulsions--climbs on Ray's back and kisses his cheek. "Aw, did we leave you out?"

"I'm just saying, when I leave all of you to tour with Louise Post before we get married and rule the world, it shouldn't come as a surprise."

"I can't believe you still have a crush on her," Mikey says.

"None of you have any say in what is good, solid heterosexual taste. Louise Post is my intended, and one day she will know it."

Gerard should look up what label Veruca Salt is on these days, see if maybe he can speed that along for Ray. He's been listening to her for thirteen years now. Surely that sort of dedication deserves a reward.

"I, for one, have no sympathy for you," Bob announces.

Mikey smacks his boyfriend, lightly. "Be nice."

"He gets laid more than I do, and I currently live on a bus with my boyfriend. Not complaining, just making a point. No sympathy."

"You know how I hate to agree with you, Bryar, but you might just be on to something," Frank says, doing his best to look thoughtful. One of these days Gerard will tell him that he's better at it when he doesn't try. But not until the amusement wears off, which might be a while.

Mikey approaches Ray and squirms until he has situated himself under Ray's arm. "It's not the same," he says quietly, and rests his head on Ray's shoulder.

Gerard knows that Mikey is at the wrong angle to see the look of absolute adoration Ray showers him with for a bare second. Gerard sees. Ray tightens his arm around Mikey, "You're a good friend, Mikey Way."

"But as a boyfriend, you kinda spread it around a little," Bob tells him.

Mikey makes a face at Bob, who grins. Mikey's responding grin is clearly automatic and totally, deliciously goofy. Gerard would take a picture but it would find its way online somehow, even if Gerard hid it in the underwear compartment of his travel bag--maybe especially then--and he's not sharing this Mikey moment with the world. The other three guys, absolutely, but nobody else.

"Bob's just jealous," Ray says.

"Very," Frank tells him, his face too straight to technically be considered straight. Frank always overdoes things. As a performance technique it tends to work for him, but then, Gerard figures people probably think the same thing about him. They're alike in that way. They're alike in the best ways.

Gerard knows it's his turn to round things out, but he doesn't really want to suggest that Bob would want to sleep with him rather than Mikey. Instead he says, "Well, you're kinda the stud, Ray Toro."

Ray cracks up, taking Mikey right with him. Frank leans over and whispers, "Not for me he's not," and kisses the side of Gerard's ear.

Out of the corner of his eye, Gerard can see Bob taking the couple of steps to reclaim Mikey, feel Mikey's laughter under his palms. Bob doesn't take Mikey, though, just adds himself to the fray and Gerard finds himself tugging Frank up, over to the other three.


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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile