When he got home from work that night, and Mikey rolled over to murmur, "Hi, missed you," Frank asked, "Know anything about this interview Brian's got me coming in for?"
"Huh?" Mikey asked.
Frank said, "Go back to sleep," and Mikey listened to him.
Frank came in at one-thirty and helped Spencer sort through all the books that had recently been donated in the pursuit of the center having a reading/quiet room. Spencer said, "You can take the ones we don't want, if you have any use for them," and Frank took all the ones with pictures in them. Mikey liked to decoupage people's birthday cards, and his school notebooks and sometimes random furniture surfaces. Frank had once complimented him on it and he'd said, "It's not like Gee, or anything."
At about five to two Frank left Spencer on his own and knocked at the doorframe to Brian's office. There were people in there, three of them. They all looked to be about Frank's age, maybe a little older. They were all in suits that were considerably nicer than Frank's, too. But Brian smiled when he looked up, said, "Hey, Frank!" and all three stood, holding out their hands, as though he hadn't been struck out of the running at first glance.
Frank shook the nearest guy's hand and Brian said, "This is Disashi Lumumba-Kasongo, the woman next to him is Maja Ivarsson, and next to her is Alexander McLean."
When Frank shook Alexander's hand he said, "AJ, man, seriously."
Frank said, "Sure. I'm Frank Iero."
"Disashi, Maja and AJ are all lawyers, Frank."
Disashi rolled his eyes. "Neighborhood kids, first and always."
Frank grinned. That was a sentiment he could get behind. When Maja spoke it was clear she had an accent and Frank wondered if she'd grown up anywhere near Bob's neighborhood. She didn't sound Russian, but a lot of other immigrant families lived in that area. She said, "We're starting our own firm. A sliding scale firm interested mostly in protecting non-profits, although we're willing to look at individual cases as well, depending on the tenor of the case. We all have different specialties, but we need a paralegal."
Frank's eyes flickered to Brian. "You know I don't have a paralegal degree, right? Or any experience?"
"Brian gave us your resume, man," AJ told him. "We don't necessarily want a professional. For one thing, let me be honest: the pay's shit and the benefits are worse. We're all coming out of pretty high level firms, but most of the money's going in to starting up. We need someone who cares about the neighborhood and about what we're doing, someone who's willing to learn along with us and someone who's not gonna freak when shit goes wrong. Brian says you might be that guy, and seeing as how Brian's the reason most of us aren't in prison, I think we can take his word."
Brian was shaking his head, but Frank believed it. He asked, "So, the fact that I spent five years in prison isn't an issue? Not even from a PR standpoint?"
"What, you gonna tell everyone who walks in the door?" Disashi asked.
Obviously not, but everyone else who'd interviewed him had seemed to think that was the plan. Frank drew in a breath. "What about these?" He held out his hands, tilted his neck so that the scorpion was more highly visible.
All three of them started laughing and before Frank could even ask what was so funny, both Maja and AJ were taking off their jackets, unbuttoning their sleeves to reveal tattoos of their own--quite a few in AJ's case. Frank couldn't help laughing too. A relieved, pleased laugh. "Oh."
"Willing to give us a try?" Disashi asked, soft and curious.
"Yes," Frank said without even having to think about it. "Yes! I mean, um, when do I start?"
Mikey was at the hospital already, Ryan was at the church talking with Greta and Chris about a green-conscious Earth Day menu, Brian had gone out to have coffee with Disashi, Maja and AJ, so it was Spencer and Jon who were left to bear the brunt of Frank's excitement. Frank's excitement involved a lot of throwing himself on both of them and yelling in all directions about giving his two weeks' notice.
After Frank knocked over the third pile of books, Spencer caught him mid-air and manhandled him out to the lobby. "You are a menace, Frank Iero."
Jon was laughing so hard he could barely stand up straight. Frank pushed him and he toppled over. He managed to keep laughing through the fall. Frank said, "Asshole."
Jon straightened, sniffling a little. He said, "It's awesome, Frank."
"Oh, sure, I believe you now."
Jon shrugged and pulled out his phone. He pressed a number. Frank asked, "Who are you calling?" but Jon didn't feel the need to answer him. Frank said, "Who who who who--" until Jon said, "Hey, you should ask your boyfriend about his news tonight. Like, go to the restaurant." He clicked the phone shut.
Frank said, "Asshole," again. Jon just laughed some more.
"This is a real law firm, right?" Gabe asked. "Like, if I check into it I'm not going to find out it's being run as a front for blow and smuggled Chinese brides?"
"You shouldn't judge everyone on the situations you get yourself into."
"Only the special ones," Gabe told him. Frank smiled, but he didn't say anything that would let Gabe know. Gabe said, "So, Brian hooked you up with this?"
"Did they tell you what they're paying you?"
"Brian came back from coffee with an offer. It's more than I'm making now, if not by much. No medical just yet, but I at least have sick days, so that's something. They're not paying themselves for a year, so I'm really not gonna complain. And I might actually enjoy the job, or at least not hate it."
"Maybe start eating again?"
Frank was always caught off guard when Gabe noticed the things he didn't think were particularly obvious, when the joking tenor of his voice sharpened into something that Frank could only name as concern. "I-- Yeah."
"If I sign off on this, you'd better gain five pounds in your first week, Iero."
"I work a lot of it off, you know?" Frank said with a smirk.
"Bitch," Gabe said.
"Pot," Frank responded.
Gabe didn't deny it.
Frank felt sort of sorry for his boss, whose mouth totally fell when he gave his notice. He said, "You sure, Iero? We could maybe get you some overtime? Up your salary a little?"
Frank said, "Sorry, it's just--" He didn't want to say, "I've found something better." His boss wasn't a bad guy, and he took pride in keeping his kitchen a clean operation, treating his employees well. It wasn't his fault Frank had spent too many years in a pretty different type of kitchen.
"Something a little more in line with a guy who's too smart to be an ex-con?"
Frank looked at him. The prison time was something very few people were willing to mention to his face. He said, "Something like that."
"Yeah." The guy sighed. "I kinda knew this was coming. You were too on top of your shit for this sorta thing."
Frank felt for him. A lot of the kitchen staff seemed to be made up of people who felt that work was something you did when you felt like it. Turnover was horrendous. He said, "I hope you find a good replacement." He did.
The guy said, "At least you gave two weeks. That was pretty decent of you."
Softly, Frank said, "I'm a decent guy."
"Yeah," his boss agreed, "you are."
Roughly half-way through his shift, Frank's immediate supervisor said, "Iero, take a break. You got company."
Frank didn't ask twice. He took off his apron and his hairnet and his gloves and went to go find Mikey in the dining room. What he found was Mikey, Gerard, Bob and Tommy all at one of the round corner booths. He slid in next to Mikey. "Hi."
"Jon says you have news," Gerard said.
"Wow, way to be patient," Mikey said and ran his thumb over Frank's hand. "Hey, how are you?"
"I'm awesome, Mikeyway," Frank said.
"Well, yeah, but beside the obvious."
"Ow ow ow," Gerard whimpered.
Bob looked at him. Gerard explained, "Toothache."
Frank threw a balled up napkin at him. "I've seen some of the pictures you've drawn, Gerard Way."
"Oh, pulling out the full name, I'm so scared."
"Gee, stop, I wanna hear his news." Mikey threw his napkin too, evidently just for good measure.
"You were the one who wanted me to slow down," Gerard said, petulantly.
Frank could feel Mikey rolling his eyes alongside him. Tommy said, "Frank."
Frank said, "I got a job."
Bob broke into a grin. Gerard lunged across the table and tackled Frank's head in something that approximated a hug. Tommy said, "Awesome."
Mikey said, "Told you."
"Nobody likes a told you so, Mikeyway," Frank reminded him. Mikeyway seemed unconcerned with whether or not he was so likable. It was probably because Frank couldn't stop smiling like the village idiot.
Tommy asked, "What kinda job?"
"I," Frank announced, "am going to help save the world."
Gerard frowned. "I hate you." Bob petted Gerard's shoulder consolingly.
Mikey whispered, "Husband," and hooked his tattooed hand in Frank's beneath the table. Frank set their hands on the table.