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Bob asked when Gerard was at his most giving. Not that he necessarily thought Gerard would have said no; he didn't. It was just that this was the sort of thing Bob had never, ever imagined himself asking another person and it was intimidating. It was terrifying, really. Intimidating sounded better. "Think you could get October 17th off? The day?"

Gerard snuggled even further up Bob's body, tucking his head under Bob's chin and making a happy noise. "Prolly. Why?"

Bob smiled a little. Gerard always dropped syllables after sex, like his tongue couldn't handle that much work any more. He wrapped his hand over the back of Gerard's neck, right where the collar would have rested. Unless Gerard really needed it, Bob wouldn't let him wear it during sex. That thing left bruises. Softly, he said, "I want you to visit my mom's grave with me."

Gerard stilled under his touch. "Oh. Um. You've never really--" Gerard twisted slightly to kiss at Bob's collarbone, lips soft and careful. "Okay."

Bob felt himself unwind slightly. Gerard brought his hands up and pressed them flat against Bob's chest, capturing them between the two of them. "All you had to say was that you needed something."

"I like you knowing things," Bob told him. He did, too, he was just bad at the telling part of that venture.

Gerard took a sharp breath and rushed ahead with, "Can I ask questions?"

Bob closed his eyes. "You don't know that you can." It wasn't a question.

"You're private," Gerard said. Bob could hear the shrug in his voice. "Means when you tell me something, it's special. I'm special."

Bob rolled them over with a quick and unwarned twist of his torso. He pinned Gerard beneath him and reveled for a second, instinctively, at the way Gerard didn't even flinch. Then he growled, "Special."

Gerard smiled his super secret smile up at Bob. He said, "C'mere," and pulled Bob down, kissing him deep and sweet. They shifted then, worked in concert so that Bob could rest his head on Gerard's chest and Gerard could run his fingers through Bob's hair. He said, "Sometimes I wish I'd thought to touch you when you were all fuzzy."

Bob snorted. "I could shave again."

Gerard made a thinking sound. "No, I'd miss this, too."

"It'd grow back."

"But I'd have to be patient."

Bob laughed a little. "At least you know your limits."

Gerard chuckled. He let things fall silent for a few moments, a period of warning before asking, "What color were her eyes?"

The question hit Bob a little from the left. He'd expected something more grandiose, he supposed. But this was Gerard, and color was very, very important. "People used to tell me that I had her eyes."



"Oh, just, I've tried finding that color. I've mixed cornflower with sapphire and sky with powder and everything I could think of. I've tried mixing different brands, mediums, everything. It's Bob Blue, and it doesn't exist outside of nature, can't be reproduced." Gerard sounded grumpy. Bob soothed his thumbs along the side of Gerard's torso until he wiggled a little, made soft sounds of ticklish distress. Then he let off. Gerard said, "Oh, no fair. One of these days I'm going to discover your kryptonite and it's going to be all over, Robert. Complete end game." Gerard was Bob's kryptonite, but as long as he didn't know it, Bob was safe. Sort of. Gerard asked, "What was October 17th?"

Bob swallowed. "The day she died."

"Frank-- He said something about cancer in one of his letters."

"Breast cancer. Bad medical response."

"How old were you?"


Gerard was silent for a long time. "I was nineteen when Elena died."

Bob nodded. Gerard asked, "Can I bring her flowers? Would she have liked me? Did she know, I mean, would she have been expecting--"

Bob rose up and kissed Gerard. "Yes, so much she would never have let us out of the house, and yes, and I can only answer so many questions at once."

Gerard smiled sheepishly. Bob asked, "Did you have others?"

"Millions," Gerard admitted. Bob got up. Gerard asked, "Bob?"

"Pizza," Bob said. He, at the very least, was going to need some fuel for this conversation.


October 17th dawned rainy and gray. Bob put himself in the suit Greta had helped him find at Goodwill. Greta was really the only trustworthy person he knew when it came to shopping. It was navy blue, which he'd been uncertain about, but it had fit well and Greta had reassured him that it didn't look foolish at all. She had found him a medium blue shirt to go with it and a rather basic blue and red striped tie. The stripes had concerned him as well, but Vicky had said, "Seriously, Bryar, take a walk on the wild side, would you?"

Bob had said, "So, it would be okay if I stole that Caddy we've got on the table?" Vicky had punched him in the arm then. Hard.

He woke Gerard when he was dressed--he could never sleep on the 17th, it was still early as it was. Gerard stretched and mewled and did all the things that usually made it hard for Bob to get out of bed in the morning without fucking him straight through the mattress--they tried not to do that so much when Mikey was in the apartment. Today Bob just watched, comforted by the normality. Gerard yawned and blinked up at him. Bob said, "It's rainy and cold. You don't have to come."

Gerard said, "Yeah, okay," and slipped out of bed. He straightened Bob's tie a little and asked, "Who do I have to thank for making my boyfriend all sharp and sparkle?"

"Sharp and sparkle," Bob repeated, because he was pretty sure there was something wrong with that construction.

"Yes," Gerard said, not leaving much room for argument.

Whatever, Bob wasn't some kind of grammar expert. "Greta. With a side of Vicky."

"Vicky?" Gerard asked doubtfully.

Bob shrugged. "She punched me."

Gerard frowned. "Um--"

"It's okay, just bruised."

Gerard just kept frowning. Bob kissed his lips lightly. "Get dressed, Gee. She's waiting."


Gerard made them stop at a flower shop--a real flower shop, not the corner of a grocery store--where he could pick out flowers and have the shop assistant help him arrange them in a bouquet. He asked Bob about his mom's favorite colors and held up flowers next to each other, waiting for approval. Bob really didn't know much about these things, but he had to admit that the array of monochromatic, autumn-shaded flowers that Gerard ended up with were crisp and somehow warm and perfect. He made Gerard stop before he exited the shop and whispered, "She would have loved you. She would have."

Gerard took Bob's hand tight in his and stepped out the door.


It took two buses and a bit of a walk to get there, but by the time they managed it had at least stopped raining. It was still cold, and Bob took off his jacket and put it around Gerard. Despite the umbrella they'd been sharing, Gerard looked a little drowned and pathetic, but he smiled up at Bob. He laid the flowers gently on the grave marker and said, "I'm gonna let you have some time with her," then wandered off.

Bob crouched down. Softly he said, "Hi momma." He picked a dead leaf off from where it had fallen on her marker. "I brought someone. I brought Gerard."

He had told her about Gerard when he'd come the first time, days after being released, in order to clean up the grave, make sure it was well kept up. It was, and Bob suspected some of the women from the neighborhood still came to check. "He's the one who brought the flowers. Colors are important to him. Artist."

He was trying to find something else to say, knowing it would have been easy with her there, always certain of when to ask questions, how to ask them. There were times when her absence was like an absence of some important part of himself, like he had let go of something he shouldn't have and she had taken it with her. That he couldn't even begrudge her it was the absolute worst part. His eyes were closed, concentrating on the feel of the stone under his fingers when he heard a soft, "Robya."

Robert wasn't a Russian name. There was no natural diminutive. That hadn't stopped the women of the neighborhood from finding one--hardly. He didn't have to look around to know that voice. "Dasha," he said.

He couldn't remember the last thing he had said to this woman who had taken him in upon his mother's death, when it was that or the system, but he knew she hadn't deserved it. Dasha was old-world--uncomfortable with her son's marriage outside his culture and color, among other things--but she had meant well in trying to keep Bob from Yuri's gang. He certainly should not have yelled the things he had, but he had been eighteen and angry at the world. She had just committed the crime of being part of that world. He stood and bowed his head and was about to apologize when she said, "You look good. Ilya had said, but that boy. He has odd notions."

Bob tried to smile, but it hurt too much. Instead he asked, "Her grave. Did you--"


"Dasha." He could barely feel his chest. "I'm--"

She shook her head. "Whatever punishment I wished for you, it wasn't that."


"Ilya says you are working at a garage now? Not Russian."

"No. It's an independent operation."

She smiled a little. "Good boy."

"Dasha. There's-- There's someone I want you to meet." Bob was fairly certain his heart was going to plain stop right in his chest. It was the first time this woman had spoken to him in seven years, had smiled at him, and he didn't want to give that up, he sort of wanted to hide himself if it meant keeping it, but he was standing next to his mother's grave and he knew exactly what she would have said to that. Well, okay, there were two possibilities: 1) "Grow a pair, Robert," or 2) "Conditional love is no sort of love at all," or possibly some combination of both. Bob searched the area for Gerard, finding him sitting on a bench some yards away. All it took was a look for Gerard to come over. He was dwarfed by Bob's coat, and it didn't match his black sweater at all. He looked flushed from the cold and nervous about whatever he was heading into and he was still the most beautiful thing Bob was ever going to see. When he was near enough, Bob said, "Gerard Way, this is Daria Vissarionovna, Ilya's mother."

Gerard said, "Hello, ma'am," in Russian, the way he'd made Bob teach him. It was stilted and sort of funny sounding, but Bob could understand just fine, and clearly, so could Dasha.

She said, "Hello," back, and took his proffered hand. She looked him over even as Bob watched Gerard sketch her out with his eyes. Finally she said, "Come and have tea, Robya. It's cold out here. Bring your friend."

Bob reached down and squeezed Gerard's hand. Gerard said, "I'll be right there. I just need a few moments, all right?"

Bob nodded, and helped Dasha back to her car. When he looked back, Gerard's lips were moving. He hoped his mom was listening.

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Skin by egelantier, photo by microbophile