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The day that Mikey left the prison, Gerard hugged him without really giving a shit who saw and said, "I'll see you on Sunday, okay?" and, "Don't forget to like, brush your teeth, and shit."

Gerard could feel Mikey rolling his eyes against Gerard's shirt, but Mikey wasn't letting go, so he sensed that the sentiment behind the stupid advice was understood. Gerard said, "Mikey," because Mikey had to go, he had to, it was better for him.

Mikey said, "Tell Bob that if he doesn't take care of you I'll spread rumors about him in the Russian neighborhoods."

"I'll be fine, Mikey." Take care of yourself.

Mikey said, "I'll see you on Sunday."


For Gerard, there had always been two things: drawing, and Mikey. Drawing at times, left him. He had come to acknowledge this fact, understand that sometimes his hands just didn't want to cooperate, his mind couldn't form the lines and angles necessary. It made it hard to speak, when he went through those periods, because his words, the way things came together, were also stuck, stuck behind all the backed up ideas, pictures that couldn't happen.

Mikey didn't leave. Mikey was a constant in the way that nothing was constant anymore, not even death. And there were Sundays, sure, which was more than Frank was getting, so Gerard should have been grateful. But Sundays were thirty minutes of separation by plexiglass, Mikey looking young and scared and alone and trying to pretend he was none of those things.

Sundays were Gerard trying to come up with things to tell Mikey even if Mikey didn't really need to be impressed, never had needed that. Mikey had been born impressed with Gerard and seemingly had never gotten out of the habit, despite the part where Gerard had gotten him hooked on a fair amount of narcotics and then dragged Mikey to a place where he'd been raped and beaten and humiliated on a regular basis.

Sundays were Mikey bringing gifts that he didn't look like he could afford and smiling hopefully at Gerard. Gerard told himself that at least it was a smile, that was something.

Gerard kept trying to draw, because it seemed only fair that if he couldn't have Mikey outside of Sundays, he ought to have drawing, but it was a loss. Even Bob's gift of an entire set of Holbein brushes with their smooth wooden handles and multiple uses, couldn't jog anything. Bob said, "I wasn't sure, I know they're brushes--"

Gerard said, "They're perfect," and they were, and even if they weren't, Bob's efforts were. Gerard tried, he tried to draw the cat that crept through his mind--a jaguar, but with markings like Gerard had never seen on any real cat. He tried to draw himself or Mikey or even Frank.

He kept finding himself with nothing more than indiscriminate forms on the paper. It was a waste of both the pads Bob supplied him with and the quality leads he kept Gerard in. It was just a waste.


Bob said, "Maybe you should stop trying."

Gerard nodded. Bob and he didn't act like Bob's suggestions were negotiable, that was just stupid. Bob said, "Gerard, I meant--"

"No, it was a good idea." It was, to a certain extent. Gerard just couldn't talk about the way he was scared to stop trying, the way last time he had stopped trying the only thing that had been able to fix him was Bob making him see that Mikey needed him. Mikey didn't anymore, though.

He couldn't talk about the fact that he was scared to stop trying, full stop, scared that it would mean he just wouldn't start again. For Gerard, there had always been two things.


When Bob would talk to him, Gerard tried to focus, because Bob was conscientious about taking care of Gerard, kind--even if it was a quiet kindness--when nothing else in this place was. Gerard didn't want him thinking he didn't appreciate it.

He also made sure to pay attention when he told Frank the things Mikey asked him to relay, made sure to note Frank's reactions so that he could tell Mikey the next Sunday. He tried not to notice the things he didn't want to tell Mikey, like the way Frank was losing weight, becoming sharper, more distanced from Bob and him. Gerard wasn't sure what to do about those things. He always meant to talk to Bob about it, but then he wouldn't quite know how to bring it up.

Mikey and Frank weren't Bob's responsibility.


It was a Sunday night when Bob stood up and tugged a little at one of Gerard's wrists. "Hey, c'mere."

Gerard came. Bob hadn't pressed him for sex once since Mikey had left. Not that Gerard would have resisted otherwise; sex with Bob was generally pretty fucking nice. He just hadn't really been in the mood to expend that much energy of late.

Bob ushered him into the lower bunk and stripped his shirt, but once he had done that he just wrapped himself around Gerard and waited for Gerard to warm up. Gerard didn't ask. Bob had his own preferences as far as sex went, and Gerard hadn't really gotten used to having preferences again, so that worked out well for the both of them. Whatever Bob was doing right now, it was warm, and as comforting as anything had been in a while.

Bob said, "I'm still here, Gee."

Gerard nodded. He wasn't entirely sure what Bob wanted him to say.

"I know I'm not him."

Oh. For all that Gerard just went with Bob's whims for the most part, it was largely because he figured that was the way it was easiest for both of them. It certainly wasn't hurting Gerard--more often than not, Bob's quiet way of knowing Gerard helped more than Gerard's twisted way of knowing himself. It hadn't really occurred to him before now that his way of riding Bob's claim to him out was possibly a little hurtful to Bob, but there was something in the words, something low and empty and Gerard said, "He's my brother," because he couldn't lie, couldn't make Bob something he wasn't, but Bob was there, and okay, maybe Gerard should have been paying more attention to that fact.

"I know," Bob said, and just kept Gerard there, warm and not alone, until the early hours of the morning, when he helped him carefully back up to his bunk.


It became a routine, Bob's quiet, "C'mere," and Gerard's even quieter accession. It went precisely like that until the Sunday when Gerard slipped down on his own, climbed cautiously over Bob and said, "I can-- Um, this is okay, right?"

Bob kissed him, then, and that wasn't something they'd done all that often. Gerard wasn't entirely sure why, but he thought he might be beginning to understand when Bob asked, "Gee, Gee, this is okay, right?" and it sounded like he was asking for permission.

Gerard kissed him back. It wasn't a hard kiss, but it was an answer. Bob's hand was cool and steady against the back of Gerard's neck and when he said, "I'm still here," between kisses, Gerard started to understand what he was actually saying.


It was also a Sunday night when Bob said, "I won't hurt you."

Gerard thought about the comment for a long while, about the way Bob always held him just tight enough, the things Bob gave him, the way he never took too much. "I know."

Bob soothed a hand up and down Gerard's spine. "I want to fuck you, Gee."

It wasn't as though Gerard hadn't known this was coming. Even with the way Bob was always spoiling him in bed, he had known. He couldn't help the way it made his chest tighten with fear, though, couldn't say a word.

"I won't hurt you," Bob said. "I won't."

Gerard didn't say, "I know," but then, he didn't say, "I'm scared," either. He just made himself relax as much as he could in Bob's grip. Bob said, "Okay."

Bob took his time; Bob liked taking things slowly. He rubbed what he could of the stress from Gerard and then tried coaxing it out of him by way of his mouth, sucking and licking and nipping at Gerard's nipples, his shoulders, his stomach, his palms. When Bob decided to try his luck at the shadowed spot right below Gerard's hipbone, Gerard realized that he might not care if Bob hurt him by the time he got around to it.

Gerard pressed his face to the pillow so as not to give them away. Bob pulled up and laughed softly in his ear, low and something like happy. Then he went back to his previously scheduled Gerard-torture.

Gerard took it like a man until he couldn't until he was biting his lips to keep from begging. Bob had slipped his fingers inside Gerard at some point, wet and gentle, and Gerard had barely even noticed, too distracted by Bob's tongue. Bob rolled him over so that his back was plastered to Bob's chest, Bob's arm was draped over Gerard's hip, his hand cradling Gerard's cock. He slid in, his mouth still at the back of Gerard's neck, the controlled measure of his entrance making sure that the drag of his cock over Gerard's prostate lasted as long as it possibly could.

Gerard brought his hand to his mouth and bit down hard. The pain couldn't even distract him from how fucking good this was, how it was starting to rewrite everything that had come before it, how badly he wanted this to last, how that warred with his desire to come, and Gerard thought he might enjoy that irony later, but all he could think about just then was the feel of Bob in him, fitting perfectly, making him feel like this. There weren't even words for it, just this.

Bob said something that sounded like, "Mm, you purr like one, too," which made no fucking sense, but whatever, Gerard didn't care. Bob said, "Come, baby, c'mon," and the coaxing nature of his voice, the way he timed it to the strokes of both his hands and his cock, all of it was just too much to resist, even were Gerard in the habit--even were it the kind of order Gerard had any interest in resisting.

Gerard said, "You should come, too," because Gerard liked that, liked knowing his partner was along with him for the ride.

"Okay," Bob said, and went with Gerard's suggestion.


It was too dark, Gerard was sure nothing would come out right, but he could fix it, or start over again later. He didn't want to wait.

In the dead of the night, by feel rather than by sight, Gerard sketched out his cat, line by line by line.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile